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Midfield Battle: How the Manchester Derby hinges on Carrick and Toure

by Josh Powell | September 20, 2013

Between them they have won two Champions Leagues, six Premier Leagues, one FA Cup, two La Ligas, and two Club World Cups. Josh Powell looks at how the Manchester Derby could swing on the performances of City’s Yaya Toure and United’s Michael Carrick…

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Last season Toure found the onion bag seven times in the Premier League and showed his ability to step up in the biggest games, with goals against LiverpoolChelsea and Man United. Carrick was less prolific, notching just the one goal away at Stoke in April – a strike that ended a run of 48 league games without a goal. However he was more accurate – with a slightly higher percentage of his shots being on target.

Yaya Toure’s knack of scoring goals arguably gives him the edge over Carrick. The highest praise of Toure’s ability to change a game and produce goals came in the 2011/12 season in City’s match versus Newcastle.

As the Citizens struggled to break down Newcastle at a crucial stage of the season, Roberto Mancini substituted Samir Nasri, for the defensive-minded Nigel De Jong thus allowing Yaya Toure to play in a more advanced role. Mancini put his faith in Toure despite having £27 million signing Edin Dzeko sat on the bench at the time. The African repaid that faith with a brace as City went on to win their first title in 44 years.

Toure’s ability of getting his name on the scoresheet has continued under Manuel Pellegrini’s reign, and the midfielder has scored two league goals in just four games including this picture perfect free-kick against Newcastle. Pick that one out.

Yaya Toure v NewcastleAlthough Toure created more chance in the league last season and racked up more assists, Carrick’s percentage of chances being converted was slightly higher. The benefits of teeing up serial goal-getter Robin van Persie are blindingly obvious.

Possession is nine-tenths of the law

At the risk of sounding as well-educated as Paul Merson – if you don’t have the ball, you can’t score. Both Carrick and Toure are experts at keeping possession and dictating the game as last season’s stats show.

Toure had a slightly higher pass success rate but that was made slightly easier by, on average, playing the shorter ball. Both players have a key role in their respective sides of holding on to the ball, recycling possession and moving the play forward.

They are also capable of producing some superb dancing feet that wouldn’t be out of place on BBC1 this Saturday evening – as Carrick demonstrated last week against a bamboozled Crystal Palace midfield.

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Both players have the ability to decide which half of Manchester has the bragging rights on Sunday evening. In midweek Carrick had 105 touches against Bayer Leverkusen and made 96 passes with a success rate of 91 per cent. Yaya Toure had 71 touches away to Viktoria Plzen but had a pass success rate of 92 per cent and thumped home the second goal.

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