Jose Mourinho could have been forgiven a wry smile when first noticing that Man City’s visit to Stamford Bridge fell slap-bang in the middle of the Africa Cup of Nations.
It meant that, barring a shock group-stage exit in Equatorial Guinea, the Citizens’ Ivorian talisman would be absent for a potentially season-defining clash.
And so it has proven, the closest thing to Steven Gerrard in his change-the-course-of-history-single-handedly-if-he-cares-to pomp left in English football is elsewhere.
Prime time for a dabble on decent looking odds of 6/5 about a Chelsea victory then…Or is it?
Not if City’s record in the crunchiest of do-or-die encounters over the last couple of campaigns is anything to go by.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men twice downed FC Bayern Munchen in must-win Champions League combat during this period without the assistance of their midfield maestro.
The feted former Barcelona man was also unavailable when the Citizens travelled to Rome with their continental fates in the balance and prevailed 2-0.
Common to both of this term’s success was a midfield five involving Fernando, James Milner and Samir Nasri and it would be little surprise to see Pellegrini call upon the trio again at Stamford Bridge.
Evidence of City’s ability to win vital games without the talismanic Toure afford their win odds and those about the draw (both priced at 12/5) renewed lustre.
Ditto the 13/20 assessment of the reigning Premier League champions’ chances of avoiding defeat in bwin’s double-chance betting.
After all, Chelsea could be missing the two players most responsible for their transition from 2013/14 nearly men to 2014/15 titlists elect.
Diego Costa is certain to miss out through suspension, but assister in chief Cesc Fabregas’ fitness also hangs in the balance.
Sign up for a new account at bwin.com today and claim a £30 free bet that cops a £72 profit if Man City can win yet another big match without Toure.