Manchester City are enduring their second slump in form this season, having now gone win-less in their last three games.
Watching the last two games against Liverpool and Juventus must have been particularly painful for the City faithful, who are used to seeing their team play with flair and precision since Manuel Pellegrini took over in the summer of 2013. City were played off the park for much of the 180 minutes in their last couple of games, in which they lacked attacking fluency and were shockingly shambolic at the back.
There are a clutch of reasons why they were as bad in the aforementioned big games, considering the fact that they were on a 9-game unbeaten run before losing 1-4 to Liverpool. But it can be safely said that David Silva‘s absence is not one of them. City lack fluency and dynamism, usually, without the Spaniard weaving his magic. But this time around, Silva has not been missed.
Read on… to know why.
On Wednesday, with Juventus holding a really good 5-3-2 shape when out of possession, City seemed to lack the nous to find an opening. Silva might have given them the cutting edge City lacked conspicuously. Of course, City had quite a few opportunities to at least get a point out of the game, but City lacked penetration and incision, and Silva’s absence could be pointed to as a reason.
The Cityzens had Kevin de Bruyne and Yaya Toure – two players who you can describe as playmakers – on the pitch. Toure was not at his best, completing just 84% of his passes, most of which were sideways, too. De Bruyne, though, was his usual dynamic self, retaining possession and posing a threat to the home side every time he had the ball at his feet. Pellegrini’s men had 13 attempts on target, with Gianluigi Buffon forced into making a save only twice.
Why City have not missed David Silva
When the referee blew the final whistle, City had created nine chances, but failed to score even a single goal. Scoring goals, and not creating goals, has been City’s problem. Putting this into perspective, Silva has not played for City since the 6-1 home win over Newcastle United nearly two months ago. He created 4 chances in that game, with two of them being assists. The Spaniard has made just 7 appearances so far this season, with City creating an average of 13.3 chances in those fixtures.
City have played 8 games, excluding the Capital One Cup victory against Crystal Palace, since the 17th of October, when they defeated Bournemouth by 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium. They have created an average of 11.1 chances-per-game during Silva’s absence, falling behind by a mere 2.2 chances without the 29-year-old Spanish playmaker. Even in the 1-4 defeat against Jurgen Klopp’s men last weekend, City managed to create 9 chances during the course of 90 minutes, further indicating the fact that they are indeed making openings. But the problem lies in not converting those chances into goals. In their last three games, Pellegrini’s men have conceded 5 and scored a mere 1, which was done by Sergio Aguero on his return to action against Liverpool last Saturday.
There have been a catalogue of goal scoring opportunities that City have spurned since winning against Sevilla on matchday 4 in the UEFA Champions League. Raheem Sterling and de Bruyne had two golden opportunities to fire City into the lead against Villa at Villa Park before the international break, with Sterling again having what seemed an easy chance to attain parity for his team on Wednesday, against Massimiliano Allegri’s side. Sometimes, it is not the number of chances you create, but the potency you show in front of goal. And in the last fortnight, it has been City’s lack of ruthlessness in front of goal, that has impeded them from enjoying better results and, who knows, retaining top spots in the Barclays Premier League table and Group D in the Champions League.
City, over the last 50 days, have coped well without their two star men – Silva and Aguero, certainly in attack. The aforementioned statistics are a vindication that Pellegrini’s men are not doing a lot wrong, and ideally, should not have gone win-less over the last three games. With a robust Southampton side visiting the Etihad tomorrow and trying to compound City’s problems, Pellegrini and co. would want to get back to scoring goals.