After Silva scored the 5th goal of the Manchester derby this past weekend, I assumed the scoring was over. Before I could even finish celebrating though, the ball came to David Silva in the air. He calmly juggled the ball once, and played Dzeko a perfect through ball on a side volley, which Dzeko put in the back of the net. It was at that moment that I decided that David Silva was the best player in the EPL, let alone Manchester City, and that I had to write a post about him.
Of course, any claim like that needs backing up. Thankfully, we have the numbers to do so. Below is a chart of all of Silva’s passing statistics. I’ll refer to the chart throughout the rest of this post.
First, we can look at Silva’s direct involvement with goals. 3 goals so far is by no means a staggering amount, but Silva is not know for his goal scoring ability. His 6 assists leads the EPL. The most impressive of these statistics though, is his 23 chances created. As a reminder, a chance created is defined as a pass that leads to a shot on goal. This is often a valuable statistic because it is less dependent on how talented your teammate is, and more indicative of the player’s chance creation ability. To be honest, I don’t know if 23 chances created is the highest in the league, but I assume it is. 23 is a huge amount of chances created, especially this early in the season. As a reference point, both Charlie Adam and Ashley Young have 12 chances created this season, about half as many as Silva. Wow.
A player that is constantly involved in a club’s buildup all over the field, like Silva, would likely have a lower passing percentage. With Silva, this is not at all true. Silva is both constantly connected (a total of 540 passes already this season) and a passing percentage of 91%. He virtually never gives the ball away.
Even more impressive is his final third passing percentage. Measuring a player’s pass percentage in the final third is telling because in this area passes are more important and harder to complete, thus are a better measure of a player’s passing ability. Silva’s passing percentage in the final third only drops 6 percentage points, to 85%. This means in the final third, where passes are significantly harder to complete, Silva completes 17 out of every 20 passes. This would be an amazing stat for a player in one game. To keep it up throughout the entire season so far is unbelievable.
One could argue that Silva can pad his passing percentage stats by playing balls backwards or to the side, which are easier to complete than passes going forward. In the break down in the chart above though, we see this is not true. Silva passes mostly forward, a total of 212 times so far this season (about 40% of his passes go forward). He also has played a total of 14 through balls, and completed 23 of his 27 long passes. Clearly, Silva is an attacking player that plays forward and penetrating balls often.
Below is the chalkboard of Silva’s passes from the derby this past weekend. As is clear, he is involved all over the field, and rarely does not complete passes. Amazingly, this game his passing percentage was actually lower than his average on the season.
The most significant part of the derby for Silva was not his goal or his ridiculous side-volley-through-ball-assist to Dzeko. It was the fact that he was directly involved in the buildup to all 6 goals. For every City goal he either scored it, assisted it, or played a pass in the string of passes up to the goal. Amazing.
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