David Silva, to put it simply, makes football look easy. That’s the best way to sum up our little magician. It’s no surprise that when he plays well, City play well. He makes the whole team tick – feel free to disagree.
In our title winning season, David Silva was unplayable but a forgetful season followed where the whole team underperformed. This season, David Silva is thriving again, including some majestic displays against Everton, West Ham and more recently vs Norwich.
Not to mention how he almost changed the game on its head when he came on against the rampant Bayern Munich and was then the catalyst vs Newcastle in the Capital One Cup last Wednesday.
Much of the credit for David Silva’s revival lays upon our manager, Manuel Pellegrini. Manuel is known for bringing out the best from his players and we are already witnessing it in the form of David Silva, Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and even Aleksander Kolarov.
Under Manuel Pellegrini, David Silva has been given a different role on the field compared to when he played under Roberto Mancini. Under Pellegrini, Silva has been given a free role on the wings – i.e his starting position is on the left side but during the game he is given freedom to drift in and around the final third, often having quick one-twos with Nasri.
Basically, he has the license to roam freely around the pitch, slipping into empty spaces, with another player taking over the vacuum created by his movements (Re: Silva and Dzeko vs Newcastle at the Etihad).
The most notable difference under Manuel has been the defensive work that Silva is carrying out. There has been significant increase in the defensive shifts by Silva (and Nasri). When possession is lost, one can see Silva tracking back, trying to block the passing lanes, or closing down the opponent or the space. And it seems Silva is relishing this new challenge.
David Silva has already made 8 fouls (he made 27 fouls in the whole of last season), and many of them were tactical fouls (especially high up on the pitch) just to break down any counter-attacking momentum like he did it effectively vs Everton.
The following image (via StatsZone) shows the fouls committed by City against Everton with Silva responsible for two of them on the left side. Other fouls are highlighted to show how tactically shrewd Pellegrini is; he instructed the team to commit fouls high up on the pitch to break down the attacks.
His tenacity and workrate even in the closing stages this season has been commendable, even with his small stature. He has also received 2 yellow cards this season, which is already same as last season. This season he has a tackle success rate of 80% and has won 73% of his ground 50/50.
Also, this season he has recovered the ball 24 times (ball recovery every 24mins). His ball recovery rate is comparable to that of defensive midfielders and highlights his defensive contribution this season.
Another subtle change has been that most of the attacking moves go through David Silva or have some involvement with him – Silva has been the epicenter of most of our moves. Knowing his immaculate vision, ability to pick out player effortlessly and pin-point passing, it’s easy to see why Pellegrini has made Silva more involved in the build-up.
To expand on this argument, Silva averages 75.4 passes per game in the Premier League this season, which is way more than the average of his last three seasons (57, 56.1 and 44.4 respectively) and it’s also the highest by any player in his position in Europe. His passing accuracy hasn’t disappointed at all, with a pass completion rate of 88.3% – only team-mate Samir Nasri has a better rate (89.9%) among attacking midfielders in Premier League.
As aforementioned about the freedom or the free role that Silva has under Manuel, it has allowed David to be more expressive and creative. This season, he averages a goalscoring opportunity created every 22 minutess, the best rate in the league (he created a chance every 25 minutes in the title winning season) along with attempting the most through balls in Premier League (13) even though he has missed a few matches due to injury.
No player from Europe’s top 5 leagues has averaged more key passes per game than David Silva (3.7 per game) this season. There’s also significant increase in the number of crosses per game (2.4 in 13-14, 1.4 in 12-13 and 1 in 11-12) and long balls per game (2.9 in 13-14, 1.2 in 12-13 and 1.6 in 11-12) attempted by Silva.
The following is his heat-map against West Ham (via Squawka), which shows his free role on the pitch.
Silva wasn’t really known for his shooting skills but it seems he has worked on it in the pre-season and is finally bearing the fruit. He is averaging 2 shots per game this season in the league and has scored 3 goals (Scored 4 in 12-13 and 6 in 11-12), with a shot conversion rate of 21.42% (7.54% in 12-13 and 6.89% in 11-12) and shot accuracy of an impressive 67%.
Statistics don’t showcase the full truth but certainly shed some light. Here’s an intriguing statistical comparison between David Silva and Mesut Ozil (Premier League 13-14 only).
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