Man City Avoid Midfield Crisis at Crucial Time as Yaya Toure Sidesteps Ban

Rob PollardFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03:  David Luiz of Chelsea grabs hold of David Silva of Manchester City as Yaya Toure of Manchester City and Nemanja Matic of Chelsea compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on February 3, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Yaya Toure will not face a ban for appearing to kick out at Norwich striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel at the weekend, meaning Manchester City have avoided a midfield crisis that would have further disrupted their quest for silverware (via BBC Sport).

Toure faced the prospect of a three-match ban after the FA decided to review the incident which was missed at the time by referee Jon Moss, but there was no consensus amongst a panel of three ex-referees and therefore the 30-year-old won't face punishment.

Jose Mourinho had predictably tried to influence the FA’s decision when earlier in the day he said: “If he is not suspended the message is clear: you can do what you want. If the FA defends football he has to be suspended."

There’s no doubt Toure flicked a leg at van Wolfswinkel, but the contact was minimal.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the decision, one thing that’s clear is City have avoided a potentially huge blow. Fernandinho’s absence in the last two matches has been all too obvious, with City failing to stamp their authority midfield in the manner they have become accustomed, and a three-match ban for Toure would have compounded the problem.

The Brazilian missed City’s 1-0 home defeat to Chelsea and the 0-0 draw with Norwich because of a thigh injury which is expected to keep him out until at least the first leg of City’s last 16 Champions League tie with Barcelona on February 18 (via The Telegraph).

Without him, City have looked limp; lacking in verve and energy in the middle of the pitch. He's been an unqualified success since his summer move, despite his hefty price tag, and City need him back.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03:  Willian of Chelsea marshalls Yaya Toure of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on February 3, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Bott
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

With little in the way of quality cover, the last thing the Blues needed was his midfield partner facing a three-match ban, too. Toure is vitally important to City anyway, but in a time when Fernandinho is unavailable his importance increases still further.

Some will see the decision as lucky, but City won't care one bit. Wednesday's match against Sunderland is the first of four consecutive home games in three competitions. It's not a run of fixtures that will define their season, but they will go a long way in determining the level of success they achieve, and they can embark on those fixtures with their match-winning Ivorian in the side.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City celebrates scoring their second goal from the penalty spot with his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at White Hart Lane on Januar
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Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.