TEAMtalk's Prem Picks: Colossus Yaya

Manchester City colossus Yaya Toure is hailed as Fergie prays for divine intervention in TEAMtalk's review of Sunday's Premier League action.

Last Updated: 08/05/12 at 13:10 Post Comment

Yaya: Huge performance at Newcastle

Yaya: Huge performance at Newcastle

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Throughout the 2011/12 season, TEAMtalk's writers are presenting their Premier League Picks - the special moments, star performers, stunning matches or shocking incidents from the day's action which we expect to dominate the headlines.

We'll be watching all the action unfold on the live TV feeds which are piped into TEAMtalk Towers from grounds up and down the country.

Once you've read through our choices for May 6, let us know your opinions by adding a Comment below.

Who ticks the most boxes? Yes, it's Yaya

It's hard to argue against Arsenal goal machine Robin van Persie winning the recent PFA and Football Writers' awards, both voted upon well before the end of the season.

But when we reflect on the 2011/12 Premier League campaign next Sunday night - and particularly if, as seems 95% certain, Manchester City are celebrating their first title triumph in 44 years - many may be looking towards Yaya Toure as the all-round player of the season.

Of course, van Persie's phenomenal strike-rate and his impressive captaincy make him fully deserving of his honours - yet, if asked, he would surely be quick to herald the contribution in all departments of the game that has made Toure so important to City.

His passing stats are hugely impressive for a start - he's second only to Mikel Arteta in the Premier League in terms of average number of passes made over 90 minutes, and he's also in the top 10 for accuracy.

But stats only tell half the story for a player like Toure. Watching him in action in Sunday's 2-0 win at Newcastle, seeing how he dominates opponents, covers vast amounts of ground, switches so comfortably from being a defensive midfielder to an attacking one... Some may argue his goals and assists tally should be higher for a player of his talents (he's got six and five respectively now this season) but you can be certain Roberto Mancini would not swap his action man for anyone else.

In fact, in world football at this moment in time, is there anyone better in so many of the game's key skills as Yaya Toure? If Joe Hart ever had to go off injured when all three City substitutes had already been used, I'd love to see him in goal - he'd probably be immense there as well.

Jon Holmes

United to pray for Hughes favour

Manchester United need a huge favour from old boy Mark Hughes on the final day of the season next weekend and Sir Alex Ferguson, I'm certain, will be saying his prayers this week.

With United at Sunderland, rivals Man City host Hughes' QPR, who are battling for their lives at the foot of the table. But surely not even Manchester City can manage to mess this one up, can they?

City have been almost invincible on home soil and they know a win will be enough, unless United can manage to turn around an eight-goal swing with a thumping win against their reserves at Sunderland.

Fergie looked resigned to losing their title to their noisy neighbours after Sunday's routine win over Swansea, but he managed to put on a brave front and reeled out the old classic: "Football is a funny old game."

I'm sure he'll be good for a stronger quote next Sunday if QPR can halt City's home juggernaunt to deny them title glory.

Matty Briggs

Missed opportunity for Harry's Spurs

Tottenham missed a great chance to guarantee themselves a top-four finish after drawing 1-1 at Villa Park, but it was the strange decision to leave Jermain Defoe on the bench that left me baffled on Sunday.

Now I realise that Spurs only had 10 men, following Danny Rose's dismissal, but Villa were offering nothing in attack and were only looking for the point that would almost certainly guarantee them survival.

So what does Harry do? He brings on Scott Parker for the injured Rafa van der Vaart with a minute to go, plus at least six minutes stoppage-time, when Spurs needed the win.

I repeat - Villa had no intention of attacking and were there for the taking. It really was a massive missed opportunity.

Attentions now turn to next week when third-placed Arsenal, who lead by a point, head to West Brom and Tottenham host Fulham and the returning Martin Jol, who will surely fancy a bit of revenge after the way his tenure at The Lane was ended back in 2007.

Don't forget Newcastle as well. They head to Everton and can still finish above both north London sides, so it promises to be a thrilling finale in the race for Champions League football. Assuming of course that Chelsea, who still have an outside chance of finishing fourth themselves, don't win the thing and rain on everyone's parade.

Rob McCarthy

Dogfight will go down to the wire

Bolton boss Owen Coyle must have thought Wanderers had three points in the bag but West Brom's James Morrison had other ideas on Sunday and hit a last-minute equaliser at the Reebok.

The Trotters would have been level with Wigan on 37 points had they held on for a victory against the Baggies. But conceding goals has been Bolton's Achilles heel all season. They have conceded 75 in total in the Premier League (the second highest in the top flight), the same as Blackburn and four less than Wolves. The table doesn't lie and ultimately, that could be their undoing.

Wanderers' bid to beat the drop will now go down to the final day of the season. Aston Villa are safe barring a massive swing in goal difference so it's two from four - Blackburn, Bolton, Wigan and QPR - to join Wolves through the trap door to the Championship.

Sam Nightingale

Cometh the hour, cometh the extrovert!

Fellow strugglers Queens Park Rangers are not yet safe but moved out of the drop zone courtesy of Djibril Cisse's 88th-minute winner against Stoke at Loftus Road.

The R's lacked a cutting edge until Cisse's late show and with that goal, the striker has surely repaid boss Mark Hughes after missing seven games in total through suspension after two red cards since his arrival from Lazio in January.

Cisse is an eccentric character with his penchant for loud hairstyles but you cannot deny his quality. He now has five goals in seven league games and he could prove to be the difference between survival and relegation.

SN

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