Manchester City returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Newcastle, with Yaya Toure securing the result for the third goal after Demba Ba had pulled one back for the home side. As he had in this fixture last season, City's dramatic 2-0 win in the penultimate round, Toure had a tangible impact on the result, not only scoring but delivering a fine pass into the path of Samir Nasri for Sergio Aguero's easy opener.
It was not Toure role in the goal that was particularly significant -- although the pass was spectacular -- but the fact that its recipient, Nasri, was even in position to receive the ball. After all, the Frenchman's primarily a dribbler, and likes to receive passes to feet in wide positions.
That trend shows up most when Nasri is deployed on the left, but here he was used on the right, which changes how he plays. He makes more forward runs into penalty-box positions, drives towards goal more often and is more of a scoring threat to actually score.
Nasri had to come off with an injury after twenty-five minutes, but a comparison between the passes received versus Newcastle and agains City still serves as an interesting observation.
Against Manchester United, Nasri did receive the ball in attacking positions, but the significant difference is in the positioning of those passes: in wider areas in the derby, but more centrally against the Magpies.
Nasri also contributed by less tangible mean, making clever runs off the ball -- third man attacker, if you like -- to stretch the play and overload Newcastle's defence.
As Arsenal Column points out, this isn't a recent development, with Nasri showing similar directness during his time at Arsenal. That was a useful attribute for an Arsenal side often accused of laborious possession. City also currently encounter similar problems when up against deep defences, with the preferred combination of David Silva and Nasri tending to narrowness. But with Nasri playing more directly, this becomes less of an issue.