David Silva reborn: Man City's midfield wizard is Premier League's most creative player
With six games done and dusted, Premier League fans now have an idea of how this season could shape up and at the top of the pile are the two Manchester clubs. Both City and United are on 16 points each (5 wins and a draw each) and they are only separated by Goal Difference at the moment with the blue half of Manchester topping the table
Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho were expected to battle it out for the title last season but both teams failed to live up to expectations and barely put up a fight in the title race as Chelsea strolled to the league title. However, this summer saw both managers fix their squads with the personnel of their choice, replacing players signed by their predecessors.
Manchester City, in particular, spent £221.5m on incoming transfers and the result is there for all to see. City look unstoppable and they have only conceded two goals so far.
But it is their attack that is truly frightening. Both City and United are top-heavy sides but Guardiola's team looks far more in-synch and it is all thanks to the wizard in the middle pulling the strings - David Silva
David Silva leads the league in creativity
Having joined the club back in 2010, Silva is now in his eighth season with the club. Players have come and gone with increasing regularity but Silva's presence has been a constant in the side - consistent and undroppable.
“When I say I’m a lucky guy it’s because I was with Xavi, Iniesta and now Silva. All three are outstanding players.” - Pep Guardiola
The Spanish midfielder's ability to make an impact from various midfield positions makes him invaluable to a manager like Pep Guardiola - which is why City's new £43.6m recruit and his namesake Bernardo Silva has found it hard to break into the first team.
Now sporting a bald look compared to the trademark flowing hair he sported in previous seasons, Silva can be easily spotted on the pitch. And yet he slips his marker time and again to receive the ball and use his passing range to devastating effect in the final third.
His ability to drift in between the lines and open up passing channels with his sumptuous through-balls have helped City unlock defences. With two forwards in Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus to keep an eye on, defenders are reluctant to step up and mark Silva when he enters the final third.
No player has created more chances than Silva in the Premier League so far (23). What's more, the 31-year-old often called Merlin has also created more than a quarter of all the chances created by the team.
In Europe, only Paris Saint-Germain's newest star Neymar has created more chances (26).
And City have profited from his chance creation. No player has more assists than Silva who already has 6 assists this season. To put things in perspective, Silva only had 7 assists last season in 34 appearances. This season he has averaged one per game.
Silva's versatility gives Guardiola tactical options
Silva's best season in a City shirt from a creative standpoint was the memorable 2011/12 title-winning season when he provided 15 assists in 36 appearances. He looks all set to eclipse that mark this season.
His movement and keen eye for a pass have also helped other players create chances. It is one of many reasons why his teammates Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero have three assists each.
Last season Guardiola commited tactical suuicide by playing a back-three with personnel unfit for roles at the back (remember the thrashing at the hands of Leicester City?). But having signed full-backs who can also be deployed as wing-backs, Guardiola has employed either a 3-1-4-2 or a 4-3-3 this season.
Silva's role is different in both formations. When City play a back-three, he was strictly a central midfielder with Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker rampaging up and down the flanks. He and De Bruyne constantly switched positions in the middle to throw off their respective markers.
However, in a 4-3-3 formation he was the left-sided midfielder in the midfield three and was required to put in a shift to maintain City's shape on the pitch.
It didn't perturb Silva, though, and he excelled in both roles, easily averaging more than 100 touches a game. With a 90.3% pass success rate, his contributions are largely underrated unless he makes the telling pass or finish.
Tougher opponents and sterner tests await Manchester City this season. But Silva recapturing the form that helped City win two league titles bodes well for Guardiola who is under pressure to win a trophies following a barren 2016/17 campaign.
Stats courtesy of WhoScored and EA SPORTS