Part the First: No Ya-Ya, No Problem?
As some of you may know, my favorite player in the galaxy is YaYa Toure. I don't know of any other player in the league, other than Wayne Rooney (pause to spit), who could play every position on the pitch well. I've seen Ya-Ya play striker and play it well. I've seen him play the back line in a pinch and he does that well. He is a terrific passer, has remarkable vision and is one of the great possessors and dispossessors of the ball I have ever seen. When the POY vote was being made last season, I was shocked to read that Paul Scholes got more support than Ya-Ya. When the two went literally head-to-head in last year's Derby at the Etihad, it was painfully obvious to even the most jaded of United fans (pause to spit) that Ya-Ya was the better player. When asked in the first few games of the season who is this season's top Citizen, few would have responded with another name other than YaYa. Yes, Pablo Zabaleta has had perhaps the better year but that emphatically does not make him the better player. If 20 teams were given the choice between Pablo and YaYa right now, 20 would take the Ivorian over the Argentine.
It cannot be ignored that City has turned in two straight superb efforts while YaYa has been away. It cannot be ignored that two players--James Milner and Gareth Barry--have put in two of their finest games with the absence of Ya-Ya. And it can especially not be ignored that David Silva's fantastic form of the last two games has coincided with the absence of Ya-Ya Toure.
It's only been two games and I'm certainly not willing to suggest that my favorite player is someone who is doing more harm than good. But that said, YaYa demands a lot of attention on the pitch, does tend to hold the ball a great deal and tends to insist on directing the flow of the play. He's a very strong personality; make a point to notice on free kicks how often he insists on being involved. Last week, I put up a poll asking how City would fare with YaYa away. The vast majority said we wouldn't lose a game. If that holds true (and I don't think it will), then the following will probably happen:
- Milner and Barry will have continued to play very well
- Silva will be thought of as a PFA Player of the Year candidate
- City will have (hopefully) closed the gap on the Red Menace and
- YaYa Toure's streak of playing every minute of every City game will be in jeopardy.
Part the Second: Berbatov and Gollum--Separated at birth? You decide.
I tried to upload two side-by-side pictures of Berbatov and Gollum; can't be done by yours truly. I'll just say that besides looking alike, they both seem to have the same attitude toward life in general. Berbatov's a pain in the ass, right? Complaining about touches? I've been watching Fulham and he is the most visible player on the pitch, not just because he appears to be one of Gollum's second cousins but because he seems to get the ball an awful lot. ManU does not appear to miss him or his shirts ('keep calm and pass me the ball'? Really, Berba?).
Part the Third: When we're good, we're really, really good
Gorgeous first goal; again, like we were against Arsenal, we started off with every player playing at a very high level. I have to think it helps that the same eleven are on the pitch for the first time this season. Milner's steal and following one-touch pass to Dzeko was especially nice to see. Dzeko's decision making, which has been questionable to say the least, was on point. And David Silva, may he live a long, long life in a Man City uniform, was the no-questions-asked MOM, in my opinion.
Part the Fourth: EPL Notes
With apologies to shuddertothink, of whom I remain an unabashed fan, I'm going to steal a little of his thunder and make some general notes on the happenings around the league. Because there have been some happenings and those of a curious sort. To wit:
Southampton is being run by crazy people. Pity Mauricio Pochettino who was apparently the end result of five weeks of research put in by the dark lords who run the Southampton football club. All Nigel Adkins did in his time with the Saints was lead them to back-to-back promotions, a recent 2-2 draw with Chelsea to get them three points clear of relegation and all the while battling a three month effort to find somebody-anybody-to run the team as long their name didn't include the name ‘Nigel' and ‘Adkins'. We will see Pochettino get the Rafa Benitez treatment and we will not blame the Southampton faithful one iota.
Speaking of Chelsea I think it's time to give their season the ole Viaticum. Was I the one on this here site that expounded the idea of Chelsea as a super-team that would be our competition for the title as opposed to the Red Menace? I was. And were others who knew better than I (hi, shudder!) taking the time to point out it was a mite early to anoint Roman's minions with any hardware what with an early soft schedule the kind of luck that would make a leprechaun blush? There were. Now, if you don't mind, I'll have my crow medium rare. Oh, and reports of a Chelsea mutiny on their bounty? Must be January.
Daniel Sturridge scored his third goal in as many Liverpool matches today and added a brilliant dummy play to aid Suarez (if they don't give him an assist for it, it's a crime, pure and simple). I would add once again that teams that let Mark Hughes run things get things they deserve and not nice things at that.
Part the Fifth: Poll! You know what to do.