Toure's brace sees City beat WBA 3-0 and rivals have much to fear
City are back and Toure's resurgence suggests Chelsea have plenty to fear
WEST BROM 0
MAN CITY 3
(Yaya Toure 9, 24, Vincent Kompany 59)
This Sunday's showdown just got upgraded from serious to critical.
Chelsea's trip to Manchester City will prove whether the Blues' early stumble was an accident or an emergency.
City didn't sprint out of their campaign blocks yesterday morning (Singapore time). They took flight.
Their invigorating 3-0 win at West Brom reflected the topsy-turvy opening to the season, where minnows downed the mighty and champions looked like chumps.Until yesterday, Manuel Pellegrini's men had largely ducked beneath the radar. The spotlight shone on Louis van Gaal's transfer escapades, Jose Mourinho's endless moaning and Arsene Wenger's poaching of Petr Cech.Tunnel vision took hold. Will it be Chelsea or Arsenal? Arsenal or Chelsea? Wenger or Mourinho? The purist or the pragmatist? As the questions repeated themselves on the media merry-go-round, City somehow came off the carousel.
Pellegrini was a forgotten man waiting for the axe to fall, shuffling along with the walking dead. But he isn't quite ready for a trek through Zombieland. The club lost their way a little last season. They didn't suddenly become rubbish.
They just got tired. Or at least Yaya Toure did. When he wasn't sulking over forgotten birthday cakes, he was struggling with too many tournaments.
It was his employers who wanted to have their cake and eat it, expecting their midfielder to sustain his incomparable standards through the World Cup, the African Nations Cup and the tragic death of his brother.Something had to give. In the end, it proved to be the 32-year-old's temperament, playing much of last season with his bottom lip sticking out.
But he's back. After one of the longest pre-season breaks of his career, Toure has returned to reinforce his peerless position and remind City's rivals of what they do not have.Against West Brom, the Ivorian was a steel sword draped in fine silk, slicing and sashaying his way through the Baggies. He scored twice, including a peach of such quality it belonged in a greengrocer's window.The pre-game focus was on Raheem Sterling and the winger delivered on his City debut, but he remains a promising maverick. Toure is an old-school monster, terrifying City's rivals with every languid, leggy stride.
Mourinho has the equally imperious Nemanja Matic, but United may not have a midfielder of Toure's stature - the jury is still out on the new signings - and the Gunners certainly do not.Toure's presence served as a reminder that despite the fixation on the lack of reliable No. 9s among City's title rivals, the dominant man in the middle often snags the silverware.Toure's return to form poses real problems for Mourinho. Sunday's fixture was already riddled with dilemmas, but the Chelsea manager must now contend with the Cesc Fabregas conundrum. Even Swansea highlighted his defensive shortcomings. Toure may steamroller the Spaniard.
If Mourinho pairs Matic with Ramires, he reveals both his apprehension and his intentions - he fears Toure and is playing not to lose. At a stroke, he hands the initiative to the hosts.
Toure can do that to managers, even Mourinho.
Baggies boss Tony Pulis admitted after the mauling that he got his formation wrong. In playing two up front, he removed a body from midfield.
Toure stepped into the breach and wreaked havoc. Pulis didn't see it coming. In fairness, few people did.But Pellegrini's rivals should heed the lessons from history. When Toure pours forward, City reign.David Silva and Jesus Navas flourished ahead of Toure's resurrection, but it rarely works the other way round. Without Toure marking his territory, Silva often cut a peripheral figure last season.
If he can repeat the trick on Sunday, Chelsea could get their wings clipped.
While the other title contenders displayed all the cohesion, balance and grace of an octopus on roller skates, City slipped into the groove with little fuss or fanfare.
And they can only get better.
Mourinho will be acutely aware that a greater threat is yet to be fully revealed.
Sergio Aguero spent most of yesterday morning on the bench, recharging after his Copa America exertions.
He's waiting for his chance. He's waiting for Chelsea.
PULIS: IT'S ALL MY FAULT
West Brom manager Tony Pulis says he got his tactics wrong in the Baggies' 3-0 loss to Manchester City in their Premier League opener.
West Brom were 2-0 down after 24 minutes of the match yesterday morning (Singapore time), thanks to a brace from midfielder Yaya Toure.
City captain Vincent Kompany put the gloss on an emphatic win for the Sky Blues with the third goal in the 59th minute.
Pulis said he made a mistake by starting with two forwards, Saido Berahino and Rickie Lambert, rather than playing an extra midfielder, allowing City midfielder David Silva to dictate terms.
"I think I've got to hold my hands up," the 57-year-old was quoted as saying by the British media.
"I got things wrong. I wanted to play Saido and Rickie, but it went against everything I've ever done against the bigger teams.
"We've always filled the midfield and been strong. What we did in truth was allow Silva too much room in the first half.
"He completely dominated the game, controlled the game and I take responsibility, it's not the players," the former Stoke manager said.
"The pivotal moment was the time I decided to play two up front and not the extra one in midfield and you go away from what you've always stuck by." - Reuters.
We spoke before the start of the season and I am very sure we will see the Yaya from two years ago. He is a very important player for us.
— Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini (above, left) on Yaya Toure
I just had a feeling for those two tonight and wanted to be positive in the first home game, but I learned my lesson.
— West Brom manager Tony Pulis (above, right) on playing two strikers — Saido Berahino and Rickie Lambert — instead of an extra midfielder
It is not easy for him to play a new style with new teammates, he worked a lot and he had two clear chances. If he continues to play like this, I am sure he will be the player we bought.
— City manager Manuel Pellegrini on new signing Raheem Sterling
BY THE numbers
The number of passes completed by Manchester City against West Brom, which is the most by any team in the first round of the new Premier League season.