Who should Chelsea play directly against Yaya Toure?

The Ivory Coast international has been in inspirational form, and Jose Mourinho’s men will need to monitor him carefully today.

With Vincent Kompany unavailable for Manchester City’s trip to Chelsea this afternoon, Manuel Pellegrini’s side will look to Yaya Toure for inspiration.

The African midfielder has started the new campaign in excellent form, scoring four Premier League goals and driving his side forward with his endless work-rate and determination.

Chelsea will need to watch the former Barcelona midfielder carefully at Stamford Bridge, but who is best suited to go up against him directly?

Jose Mourinho first-choice central midfield seems to be Frank Lampard and Ramires, but whether one or both of these players have the defensive attributes to shackle Toure remains to be seen.

Lampard, at 35 years old, is still an asset for the Blues – a leader and a player capable of getting goals from midfield. However, the veteran’s first instincts are to get forward, and an afternoon following the enigmatic Toure around the pitch is something he will not want to do or be capable of doing effectively.

Ramires certainly has the physical attributes to counter Toure’s impact, as the Brazil international is fast, strong and fit, but like Lampard he looks to get forward. The former Benfica midfielder’s impact in the final third is sometimes overlooked, and as such playing him as a defensive shield would take away from his and Chelsea’s overall game.

There is a case to suggest that Mourinho may well be tempted to drop one of his usual central midfielders and play someone more defensive in front of his back four. John Obi Mikel looks like the obvious choice, and although the Nigeria international has the discipline to stay in the correct position, his ability to go toe-to-toe with Toure is questionable.

With Gary Cahill and John Terry able to play at centre-half, will Mourinho consider deploying David Luiz in midfield to go up against Toure? The Brazilian certainly has all the attributes to make him a top enforcer, and if assigned to nullify the African’s influence could well be successful.

This would allow Ramires to push forward like he normally does, and would also deny City arguably their most influential player.

Chelsea’s handling of the in-form Toure could well be a key feature of how the game pans out, and not properly monitored the City midfield lynchpin could hurt the hosts.

image: © marc_tacoma

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