With Manchester City’s recent run of results seeing neighbours United open up a five-point lead at the top of the table it is looking increasingly likely that the Premier League title this season will be heading to Old Trafford and not the Etihad Stadium.
Despite having a crucial week ahead (both City and United playing three times) that could redefine the title race, City’s season is beginning to be picked apart as the search for culpability begins, with Roberto Mancini, Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez already garnering plenty of column inches.
One key area which has contributed to City’s post-Christmas drop off though has been the declining production of David Silva. Admittedly Silva’s slide has been from almost unprecedented heights but at the crucial stage of the season, for a combination of reasons, his loss of form has badly hurt City.
Key to this has been the evident tiredness to Silva’s play. Mancini has called upon Silva pretty much throughout the season without him being afforded a break. The difficulty on Mancini’s part was the loss of Yaya Toure to the African Cup of Nations during a busy January period (which also saw Vincent Kompany suspended) and a lack of trust (at the time) in other creative players such as Samir Nasri and Adam Johnson. Clearly bothered by an ankle injury and without any significant period of rest, Silva looks fatigued and unable to impact and influence games to the extent he did early in the season.
I have taken a look at Silva’s numbers throughout 2011/12, breaking the analysis down into three categories: Season, August-January and February-March. The split, whilst somewhat arbitrary, does draw a distinction from when City’s struggles began to take hold.
What I then did was adjust both the August-January and February-March numbers to average these across the season to date to be able to provide a meaningful comparison. This way this was done was comparing the minutes played in both August-January and February-March against the season total and then adjusting his numbers for both categories accordingly.
This area is undoubtedly a key area and the hallmark of Silva’s game. Since we waved goodbye to the month of January Silva has failed to not only score, but also assist on a goal for City; a huge drop off in terms of his numbers from earlier in the season where he notched five goals and contributed 12 assists. In mitigation though, Silva is still creating chances (averaging two per game) although the adjusted figures do still show a drop in terms of his creativity (decreasing from 86-59):
Interestingly, Silva’s adjusted numbers also show an increase in the number of through balls that he is attempting (61-68), but here is the key: in February and March Silva has only successfully made one accurate through ball – a figure no doubt impacting upon City’s travails in front of goal in recent times.
Next Page: In-depth Passing, shooting & ball winning statistics…