Yaya Toure – arguably the most complete midfield player in the Premier League – delivered a virtuoso performance in an overwhelmingly one-sided affair between what could be the best and the worst of top flight English football.
Manchester City’s Ivorian colossus cast a giant shadow of doom over hopeless Fulham with his first ever hat-trick, comprising two penalties and a now familiar Yaya wonder-strike from 30 yards.
In doing so he struck goals 49,50 & 51 of his City career spanning 175 appearances, his 20th of this season and 16th in the league, surpassing Sergio Aguero’s 15, a truly prolific showing from a player labelled a ‘liability’ by TV pundit dotty, dippy Didi Hamann!
If Yaya is a liability please show me an asset.
City’s Toure de Force is quite rightly the headline grabber, but this was a very competent all-round showing from a side focused on the job in hand, ignoring Chelsea’s annihilation of Arsenal and the pending Manchester derby.
Shorn of Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero, City could not have hoped for a more lacklustre opponent than Felix Magath’s Fulham.
Pathetic and unrecognisable from Fulham sides who have generally faired well on the blue side of Manchester, the Cottagers were awful…and to think they grabbed a point at Old Trafford only last month.
City’s supremacy was obvious and it was surprising they took as long as 26 minutes to score and, even more so, the best part of another half-an-hour before doubling their lead.
But by the time pudgy, and questionably unfit to officiate, referee Jon Moss, blew the final whistle on 95 minutes the 5-0 deficit flattered the west Londoners.
They failed to trouble City’s much maligned central defensive pairing of Martin Demichelis and Joleon Lescott, both of whom had suffered previously at the hands of ‘mighty’ Watford and Wigan.
In fairness both the ‘Thirty Somethings’ played well.
The veteran Argentine, making his 17th PL start has reinvented himself after last week’s stoical showing at Hull, and then scoring his first City goal in the 88th minute against Fulham’s futile ‘resistance’.
Lescott, who already knows he’s leaving the Etihad at the season’s end, guaranteed he will qualify for his second Premier League winner’s medal by appearing in his 10th league game, if of course, City see off the challenge of Chelsea, Liverpool and a flagging Arsenal.
David Silva was his now standard sublime self, although afforded very little protection by a referee who could hardly keep up with the play. A case of a rolling Moss gathers a stone – if you get my drift?
Mr Moss is not a popular figure with City fans, but very few officials are nowadays such is the paucity of their performances – and that’s even when City are winning games on a regular basis!
Silva was scythed down by vicious Venezuelan, Amorebieta, for City’s second penalty, with the Fulham defender receiving a straight red card. This was in addition to him being booked for conceding City’s first penalty, when he literally gave Negredo a kick up the backside.
TV commentators spoke of minimal contact but The Beast’s left buttock might call that a bare faced cheek – but of course an arse can’t talk.
That said, Michael Owen – the monotone drone – is a pundit for BT Sport for some inexplicable reason this season, so I’ll take back that last statement.
Yaya dispatched both penalties with cool aplomb but saved the best until last in the 65th minute.
A beautifully worked free kick between Nasri and Fernandinho engineered the space for Yaya to take a nonchalant swipe at the ball, sending a carefully crafted 30 yard shot curving past Stockdale in Fulham’s goal.
It was the Capital One Cup Final cracker all over again and Yaya was quick to make the point in his post-match interview. He doesn’t do mishit crosses, he smashes in gorgeous goals!
City’s fourth of the match and Fernandinho’s fourth of the season, wasn’t too shabby either. The indefatigable Brazilian burst into the 18 yard box and with Fulham’s defending as wet as the soggy Manchester weather, slammed home a beauty.
In an almost comedic end to proceedings, Demichelis was in the right place at the right time inside Fulham’s six yard box.
As a loose ball ricocheted and squirmed through a crowded penalty area, the pony-tailed one instinctively stuck out a leg to guide it home from two yards out.
In style terms, it was the complete opposite of Yaya’s third, but nobody cared.
The South Stand altered the lyrics of the Pellegrini-Lamborghini song in tribute to MDM to sing ‘Sheikh Mansour went to Spain went out on the p*ss, brought us back our centre half Martin Demichelis.’
Notwithstanding City’s owner doesn’t partake of alcohol and you won’t see any Sunday newspapers relaying the song via their column inches, it reflects the unique humour that has stood City in good stead over the past few decades.
A special mention in dispatches for a gut-busting effort from James Milner in midfield, whereas his England colleague, Joe Hart, deserved a sponsorship deal with Damart Thermal Underwear – just hanging around with nothing to do in the bitterly cold weather!
Things will undoubtedly hot up for Joe as City go into back-to-back away challenges at The Swamp and The Emirates in the next week.
Captain Kompany will be restored to the defence to try and combat the tactics and strategy of football genius David Moyes, and word is Sergio Aguero could return for Arsene Wenger’s game number 1001 in charge at Arsenal.
City are stacked with players with a ‘big game’ mentality and six points garnered in the next seven days would maintain the bragging rights in Manchester, end Arsenal’s faltering title hopes and galvanise City’s charge to the top.
Manure will be desperate to chuck a spanner in the works (no, that wasn’t a reference to David Moyes) so City will need to be on their guard that a wounded United could still cause incalculable damage.
It promises to be adrenaline overdrive all the way. One can only hope and trust that Manuel Pellegrini has the sky blues geared up for victory.
By David Walker
Footnote: I am indebted to Read But Never Read reader, Simon Dear, for sharing the Martin Demichelis musical nugget with me and, subsequently, the wider RBNR readership.
Also, apologies to those who sought to comment on the RBNR Fulham preview article. A technical glitch prevented comments being published. Hopefully the problem has now been rectified.