Monday 26 August 2019

Manchester City title chase is child's play for revitalised Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure is back at the heart of Manchester City's challenge
Yaya Toure is back at the heart of Manchester City's challenge

Yaya Toure says the excitement of rejoining Manchester City's title challenge has made him feel like a child again.

Toure, frozen out by Pep Guardiola earlier in the season and seemingly heading towards an inglorious City exit, has gone from being neglected to almost undroppable in the space of six weeks.

Surprisingly brought back from the cold by Guardiola after the resolution of a row with his agent in November, Toure has regained his old place at the heart of City's midfield engine room.

He delivered his latest impressive display as City overcame Hull 3-0 at the KCOM Stadium on Boxing Day to stay seven points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.

The 33-year-old said: "I look like a kid, just enjoying playing football and helping my team-mates and the fans. It's very important to me.

"I'm used to winning Premier Leagues, and I think it's second two times, and I want to win another.

"I know it's going to be tough but we have to keep going because Chelsea are very good this year."

City could not afford to drop points after Chelsea won earlier in the day. They made hard work of the task against a resilient Hull, who defied their status as the league's bottom side, but eventually prevailed in the latter stages.

Toure broke the deadlock with a 72nd-minute penalty after Andy Robertson felled Raheem Sterling. Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho quickly added a second and the visitors gained a flattering third in injury time when Curtis Davies turned a Sterling cross into his own net.

Kevin De Bruyne earlier hit the post but Hull successfully absorbed a lot of pressure and went close to taking the lead themselves when Michael Dawson forced Bacary Sagna to clear off the line.

Hull have won just one league game since August but Toure does not think they should lose heart.

He said: "That's why it's the toughest league in the world, because when you see how they played, they made it very difficult.

"They don't deserve to be at the bottom. All teams that come here are going to suffer. Sometimes when you lose a game, mentally you are not right, but I think after one game they are going to be all right.

"We changed the tactic just to find the space. They still made it tough but after the very good action of Raheem Sterling we got the penalty and it gave us a lift. It was very good. For the race for the title it is very important to win games."

City next face another of their title rivals in Liverpool at Anfield on New Year's Eve.

Toure said: "For me it's almost a 'final' of the Premier League because I think it's going to be a similar kind of football. I think for the fans it's going to be fantastic."

City manager Guardiola last week hinted that if he does any business during the upcoming transfer window, it could be in the full-back positions.

The club have now added to the intrigue by allowing 19-year-old right-back Pablo Maffeo, who has made three appearances this season, to rejoin Girona on loan for the remainder of the season.

Hull's season remains a struggle and the Tigers are now four points off safety.

Manager Mike Phelan remains optimistic but hopes January might give him the opportunity to make some additions to his squad.

Phelan said: "The way we've gone about our business in the last three or four games has been terrific, but we need to freshen it up and add a bit more energy because when you play against the top teams and play well, as we did for 65 minutes, the energy gets sapped."

PA Media

The Left Wing: The 'hell' of World Cup training camp, Ireland's half-back dilemma and All Blacks uncertainty

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport