Manchester City’s fears have all but been confirmed, as it appears midfielder Yaya Toure will be unavailable for the remainder of the season. With the injury, the club’s already-thin title aspirations have been cast into serious doubt.
Toure left his team’s 3-2 defeat to Liverpool on Sunday in the 19th minute after attempting a long-range shot with what looked like a groin injury. On Monday, manager Manuel Pellegrini told reporters that he thinks “it will be difficult for Yaya Toure to finish playing this season,” leaving the rest of his Premier League campaign and possibly even World Cup participation in a state of uncertainty.
Yaya Toure is set to miss the rest of the season with a groin injury #MCFC— FansAllStar Football (@FASfootball) April 14, 2014
The reaction from pundits was immediate, as it is clear Toure is the most important player on his club.
Terrible news for City. Yaya Toure - Man City's leading scorer - coming off after injuring himself on an earlier shot. Javi Garcia coming on— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 13, 2014
The defeat to league-leading Liverpool did enough damage. Without Toure, City has no chance at winning the Premier League title.
Although it has two games in hand, City now faces a seven-point deficit with six matches to play. Not only must City make up a huge deficit on Liverpool, it also has to overtake second-place Chelsea, who sits five points clear.
Toure is certainly the key player on his club and possibly the most valuable player in the entire league not named Luis Suarez. The Ivorian leads City with 18 goals, third in the entire Premier League, and was influential in the midfield the entire season.
City Watch indicates how important Toure is, with his stats and league ranks in a number of different categories before the injury:
Yaya Toure, a king of his craft. We need a big performance from him today. pic.twitter.com/nN7qyKaenH— City Watch (@City_Watch) April 13, 2014
City’s offense has been brilliant, as its 86 goals only trails Liverpool for best in the league. Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko will still help City be potent, but it will lose some of the midfield creativity and strength without Toure.
Javi Garcia, who replaced Toure on Sunday, and James Milner will be asked to step up in the six remaining games. Both are capable, but few players in Europe could fill the kind of void that Toure leaves.
City’s remaining schedule should keep the club in the top four. Four of the club’s six remaining games are at home, where it has been difficult to defeat, although it has a tough road fixture at Everton on May 3.
Meanwhile, the two leaders have enough of a favorable schedule to maintain their leads. The only remaining match either Chelsea or Liverpool has against a team in the current top eight of the table is April 27, when they face each other in what could be a decisive fixture.
Without Toure and too much of a deficit to overcome, City seems destined to finish third or fourth.