The words defence and discipline have cropped up on more than one occasion in discussions about Yaya Toure this season, with the quibble being that the midfielder is far from diligent at performing the defensive duties of his box-to-box role.
This has led to opinions that Toure has to be used further forward as a number 10, especially in the bigger games where the need for his defensive contribution is likely to be more substantial.
Manuel Pellegrini is yet to utilise Toure in such a position, but with David Silva a doubt for Manchester City’s home match with Aston Villa after feeling the full force of Cheikhou Kouyate’s elbow in their previous victory at West Ham, this looks the prime opportunity.
Although still remaining far from the team ago that was competing for Champions League qualification under Martin O’Neill, Villa have the likes of Fabian Delph and Jack Grealish in their ranks, who will have no problem running off the back of an ill-disciplined Toure.
If Toure starts start in an attacking midfield role against Villa, the logical pairing in the deeper positions would be Fernando and Fernandinho.
However, in all three matches at the Etihad this season where the duo have been partnered together in midfield, the Citizens haven’t won any.
Moreover, two of these have been draws against Villa’s relegation-threatened rivals Burnley and Hull.
The alternative would be to start either Frank Lampard or former Villa midfielder James Milner instead, with the former looking the better option.
Lampard has only started eight matches all season for Pellegrini and Man City have won all of the past seven. The only exception overall was the 2-2 September draw with Arsenal and City were ahead when the 36-year-old was substituted.
The other factor in Lampard’s favour is that he has scored 13 Premier League goals previously against Aston Villa, which is more than he has netted against any other club.
Toure has only scored once for City since New Year’s Day, but is 7/4 to strike in the 90 minutes against Villa, with Lampard the slightly longer price of 2/1 to do the same.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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