It is rare that Manuel Pellegrini deviates from his default setting in post-match press conferences. Giving little away and declining to provide ready made headlines it is often quite a task to even manage to take anything away from ten minutes or so you get to question him after a game.
Maybe it was the defeat to Arsenal, or as much perhaps the manner of the defeat that pricked his mood yesterday, but it was telling that when asked the (inevitable) question of whether the performance was one that lacked a certain Ivorian midfielder Pellegrini fired back what was as near to a barb as you may get from him, his response along the lines of 'you were calling for him to be dropped earlier in the season and now he is the reason we lost.'
A fair point. The criticism of Toure in the early part of season was certainly audible, but from this writer's perspective a view that did not mitigate for the fact that he participated in the World Cup (he was not alone in that regard) over the summer and it levelled as much for the goings on at the end of the season.
But back to yesterday and the question did City miss Toure? A simplistic view here given the low sample size but this is this to consider:
Manchester City is winless in the four PL games Yaya Touré has missed this season (3 draws, 1 loss).— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) January 18, 2015
Now of course this does not take into account victories against Bayern Munich and Roma where Toure (and indeed others) were absent so it is clear City can win without him.
I felt that City also struggled without Samir Nasri yesterday and it was clear that Sergio Aguero is going to take some games to get back to the levels we saw previously. Yet what Toure does provide is an ability to shake this City side out of the funk they often find/get themselves into.
I wrote in The Metro yesterday that they were aimless, slow, pedestrian and lacking intent. The very traits Toure himself is at times accused of but he has shown on many occasions he is more than capable of providing the drive and forcing games in City's favour.
Yesterday, even with the attacking options of David Silva, Aguero and Jesus Navas City failed to remotely test Arsenal aside from a frenetic spell at the start of the second half where it was plenty of huffing and puffing but little else.
Toure is set to miss more games of course, including the crucial trip to Stamford Bridge. The one-man team label was something lazily thrown at City during Aguero's hot streak but is it Toure who is the one man they can least afford to do without?