Yaya Toure’s 2015-16 season so far in numbers
Manchester City, with the marquee additions of Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling to their roster, have ‘the’ best squad of the 20 Barclays Premier League teams. Injuries to many an indispensable personnel have not deterred them from staying in the Premier League title hunt and, on Tuesday, they qualified for the R-16 stage of the UEFA Champions League as group D winners. Despite the additions of the aforementioned duo along with Fabian Delph and Nicolas Otamendi, players who arrived at the Etihad Stadium at the beginning of the ongoing season, Yaya Toure continues to be one of the irreplaceable stars in the City squad.
When he is fit, Toure starts and finishes most games for City. His goal-scoring heroics from midfield were crucial to City reclaiming the Premier League title from Manchester United in the 2013/14 season. The Ivorian had a bit of a lull last season, though some would argue that, even in a slightly unconvincing campaign for him, he scored 10 goals in the Premier League. How has he fared so far this season, which is close to reaching the halfway mark?
Yaya Toure’s 2015-16 Season Performance Analysis
Toure had a very good pre-season with City, getting himself into top gear before the season proper began. He looked determined to make amends after a slightly below par 14/15 season. It was ‘below par’ in the eyes of many because Toure had exceeded expectations in City’s title-winning 13/14 season, in which he scored a whopping 20 goals and created nine. Being fair to Toure, he has found difficulty in replicating that form again.
Toure did make a resounding start to the ongoing season, scoring in City’s very first league game against West Bromwich Albion. It was vintage Toure, as he curled his effort into the top corner from 20-odd yards to goal. He also made an assist, inadvertently you could say, for David Silva’s goal. He carried that form into the clashes against Chelsea and Everton, providing a couple of assists and producing majestic midfield displays in those games. His assist for Samir Nasri’s goal against the Toffees was particularly breathtaking. It, however, would not be judicious to judge Toure’s season so far by analysing only his goals and assists-per-game.
As a midfielder, Toure has a pass accuracy of 87% from 13 Premier League appearances. 87% is probably good but, for a player as Toure who is central to what City do when in possession, it is not overly impressive. And to put that into perspective, 39.2% of Toure’s attempted passes have been backward passes as well. The 32-year-old midfielder has created 19 chances in 13 appearances so far this season. However, there has been an alarming drop in the number of chances created by Toure lately. Having created 17 chances in his first seven league appearances of the season, the imperious Ivorian has mustered a mere 2 in his last 6. And, as the main creator in the side while Silva was out, Toure could not create enough goals for City and make them a more incisive side. No wonder then, that City looked quite flat in the games against Aston Villa and Liverpool. Toure was substituted in both the games.
Coming to the duels side of his game, Toure has so far completed an impressive 82% (28/34) of his attempted take-ons. Toure’s take-on success rate is way more than the likes of Eden Hazard (61%), Saido Mane (58%), Alexis Sanchez’s (62%), to name a few who, however, have attempted more take-ons, as well, than City’s talismanic midfielder. What this feature of Toure’s play means is that he still wants to get forward and has been hugely successful at going past opposition players so far this season.
Another area of Toure’s game that has not really come along well so far this season is him keeping his goal attempts on target. His shot accuracy of 50% (12/24) does not quite tell the true story. It does not because his attempts have not tested the goalkeepers enough. Boaz Myhill and Asmir Begovic had to make saves against Toure, but the Ivorian’s goal attempts have been underwhelming in the games since. Toure has sent the ball into the stands more than he has kept them on target. Therefore, Toure has relinquished possession a lot of times and relieved the pressure City’s opponents may have been under.
Moving onto analysing Toure’s performances in a different competition, the UEFA Champions League, the Ivorian has been a little above average. Again, while Sergio Aguero and Silva played in just 3 of City’s group games, Toure could not quite make his presence felt. He produced a very good display in the home game against Sevilla, playing a significant role in both the goals City scored on the night. The Ivorian created 3 chances in that game and followed it up with another good display in Seville. But he has not quite made the sort of impact during City’s passage into the R-16 stage of the competition.
Toure, who on Friday was named the African Footballer of the year 2015, has had a reasonable 15/16 season so far. His tally of 2 goals and 5 assists in 21 appearances across all competitions is not bad. That is, if one does not base their judgement around those areas alone, of Toure’s game. Toure, though, could have done better in the absences of Silva and Aguero.