Manchester City have been the most dominant attacking club in the English Premier League this season thanks largely to the contributions of midfielder Yaya Toure, and he continued his magical year by schooling Fulham on Saturday.
The Citizens easily dispatched of the Cottagers by a 5-0 score, and Toure was responsible for three of those goals as he netted the first hat-trick of his Premier League career, according to Manchester City FC's official Twitter account:
It was a landmark hat-trick for Toure, but it was also the first for Manchester City in two years, per OptaJoe:
7 - Yaya Toure's hat-trick is the 7th so far in the Premier League this season, but Man City's first in the PL since April 2012. Treble.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 22, 2014
Toure has been viewed as one of the EPL's top players since joining Man City from Barcelona in 2010, but he is only now gaining the reputation of being a great goal scorer. Toure had never scored more than six league goals in a season prior to this year, but he has already more than doubled that mark.
Per John Bennett of BBC, Toure has outscored many of the best pure goal scorers in the Premier League this season:
Yaya Toure now has 14 Premier Lge goals this season - more than the likes of Giroud, Eto'o, Lukaku, Rooney, Van Persie & Dzeko. #goalmachine— John Bennett (@JohnBennettBBC) March 22, 2014
Toure now has 16 goals after adding two more to his first-half marker, and it can be argued that he is an elite goal scorer.
The manner in which he has done it is worth noting as well. Of Toure's two goals against Fulham, two of them came on penalty kicks. According to 8 Fact Football, Toure is nearly flawless in dead-ball situations on the year:
Yaya Toure has scored with 9 of his 10 attempts from dead ball situations (4 free-kicks & 5 penalties) this season in the PL.— 8 Fact Football (@8Fact_Footballl) March 22, 2014
At the same time, Toure proved on Saturday that he is no one-trick pony. His third goal of the match came in the 65th minute, and it showed his incredible striking range, per ESPN FC:
It's a hat trick for Yaya Toure and what a way to get it! Unreal strike from 25 yards out. Simply ridiculous.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 22, 2014
Toure's showing was so good on Matchday 31 that even Fulham fans applauded him when he exited the game:
77. The Etihad takes to his feet to applaud @Toure_yaya42 off the field, even the pocket of Fulham fans show their appreciation. Rodwell on— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) March 22, 2014
This isn't the first time that Toure has dominated a game this season, but it still seems as though he doesn't receive the credit that he so richly deserves. Willie Gannon of Bleacher Report even believes he should receive some player of the year consideration:
Yaya Toure, not even been mentioned as a potential candidate for player of the season. He's been exceptional, though. #MCFC— Willie Gannon (@WillieGannon) March 22, 2014
There are plenty of theories regarding why Toure is somewhat unheralded, and Manchester City teammate Samir Nasri believes it has something to do with the fact that Toure is from Ivory Coast, per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian.
You should just admire the way he plays because he's a great player. I might be a little bit biased because he's my friend, but for me he's in the top three of the best midfielders in the world. Of course it counts against him being from Ivory Coast. If he was Argentinian or Brazilian everyone will talk about him, everyone ... A guy like Yaya, he (has) won every trophy, he is always there. Tell me one defensive midfielder who can go forward like him who can score 16 or 17 goals in a season. Tell me one and then we can talk.
Nasri certainly makes a compelling point, but perhaps the perception surrounding Toure will change now that he has a signature game that people can point to.
Toure obviously benefits from the immense offensive talent that Manchester City boast, but Saturday's performance was largely individual. All three goals were spectacular efforts on his part, and he showed that he can be the driving force behind a championship run for the Citizens.
The 30-year-old star left soccer fans in awe on Saturday, and he isn't showing any signs of slowing down as the end of the EPL season nears.
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