Manchester City fans would be forgiven for hoping that the Ivory Coast crash out of the Africa Cup of Nations as soon as possible. It’s nothing personal against the Elephants, but more to do with the absence of their talismanic midfielder Yaya Toure. While he is in Equatorial Guinea aiming to avenge two Africa Cup of Nations final defeats, the reigning Premier League champions have stumbled through January, trying to cope without their influential beast in the middle of the park.
Toure’s final game for City before leaving for international duty was the 2-1 FA Cup victory at home to Sheffield Wednesday on January 4. Since he left, City drew 1-1 with a hopelessly out-of-form Everton, lost 2-0 at home to Arsenal and crashed out of the FA Cup, losing 2-0 to Middlesbrough at the Etihad Stadium. Yaya’s influence in the spine of City’s title-winning side shouldn’t be underestimated.
Looking purely at league statistics since the start of 2014, Manchester City’s win rate with Yaya Toure in the side is 77 per cent. Their win rate without him is a measly 17 per cent. In fact they have won just one of their six league games without Yaya Toure since the start of 2014 – a 3-1 home victory against West Brom. They lost 2-0 to Arsenal and drew with Everton, Burnley, Sunderland, and the Gunners again. The majority of these are matches that you would expect City to be winning.
This is nothing new for City fans either. Since Yaya Toure arrived in July 2010, the Citizen’s win rate in the top flight has been better with Yaya in the side than without him, in four of the five seasons. The only exception being the 2011/12 season when they won the league, but even then, both win rates were impressively high.
This weekend Manchester City travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea – a task that is hard enough with Yaya Toure in the side. But Toure is 5,500km (ish) away preparing for Sunday’s quarter-final against Algeria, leaving Pellegrini’s men high and dry. City are the big outsiders for the weekend, at 11/4 to pick up all three points – the same price as Ivory Coast to win the Africa Cup of Nations outright. Chelsea have problems of their own with Cesc Fabregas injured and Diego Costa possibly facing a ban, but the biggest missing influence could be Yaya yet again.
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