Today, Manchester City captain and legend David Silva celebrates his thirty-forth birthday. He is over half-way through his final season, that will call an end to his remarkable decade with the club. The Spanish playmaker is possibly the greatest talent to ever represent City in its 140-year history.
Silva’s refined talents and metronomic style make it difficult to encapsulate just how influential and gifted he is via a snapshot of his best goals or assists. To truly appreciate the man nicknamed El Mago, you need to watch how he dictates the flow of the full ninety-minutes, game after game, week after week.
Sergio Aguero’s lethal finishing or Kevin de Bruyne’s Hollywood passes are easy to put into a highlight reel, but Silva’s ability to ghost undetected into pockets of space as he slowly dissects an opponent’s defence will escape attention on Match of the Day montages.
Those who experience this in close quarters cannot fail to be impressed. Almost without fail, Silva’s peers will cite him when asked to name the greatest footballers they have played alongside.
Nevertheless, nobody wants to read an article about the countless times Silva collected a pass, effortlessly eluded the defender’s challenge before deftly pushing the ball into the path of an overlapping full-back. So, with that said, I’m going to provide a whistle-stop tour of the Spaniard’s finest and most significant goals and assists for Manchester City.
With 417 appearances under his belt for Manchester City, there is a long list to choose from. In the Premier League alone, Silva has 57 goals and 89 assists. I have chosen the first eleven that came to my mind, so I apologise for those other great moments that failed to make the cut.
#1 – Blackpool, 2010:
After arriving from Valencia in the summer of 2010, Silva took a little while to get up to speed with the chaotic indiscipline of the Premier League. The 3-2 victory against Blackpool in October was thus a watershed moment in Silva’s City career.
The Spaniard had already set Carlos Tevez up for the opening goal when the game neared its conclusion. Silva gathered the ball on the edge of the box, weaved his way past two defenders then finessed the ball into the corner – all this in spite of the fact Charlie Adam’s not inconsiderable gut blocked much of the goal.
It was the midfielder’s first Premier League goal, and opened the eyes of many to his talents.
#2 – Wigan, 2011:
Most fans will recall this match for heralding Aguero’s first Manchester City hattrick as the club defeated Wigan 3-0 at the Etihad stadium. However, Silva set-up the Argentine’s third with what must be one of the most underappreciated assists in Premier League history.
Collecting possession near the half-way line, Silva was surrounded by three Wigan players. Ingeniously, Silva flicked the ball up against his own shin to elude the pressure of two before skipping past the sliding challenge of the third. He then perfectly weighted the ball into the path of Aguero who did the rest.
An assist so phenomenal it’s impossible to watch it only once…
#3 – Manchester United, 2011:
David Silva’s playmaking duties were perhaps at their greatest in Manchester City’s title-winning season of 2011/12, and they were devastatingly displayed to the detriment of Manchester United in the euphoric 6-1 success at Old Trafford.
Everyone will recall the volleyed pass from Silva to set up Dzeko for the sixth. What made the assist so easy on the eye was not the skill or poise of the pass, but the effortlessness with which it was achieved. Silva did it with the nonchalance of someone playing a five-yard ball to an unmarked teammate.
It was mesmeric and a fittingly concluded a humiliating day for Alex Ferguson’s United…
#4 – QPR, 2011:
This game at Loftus Road is difficult to find highlights of because, as is to be expected, any search for a 3-2 result involving City and QPR is swamped by clips from a different match which I’m sure you can guess. It means one of Silva’s finest goals has gone unremembered.
With the score tied at 1-1, Dzeko whipped in a low cross from the left-hand side. Silva’s first touch was inspired, as he feinted to gather the ball but instead knocked it ahead of him into space before smashing it past the keeper.
The deception left the QPR defenders rooted to the spot and served as a potent reminder of Silva’s ability to score fine goals as well as create them…
#5 – Arsenal, 2011:
In December 2011, Silva recorded one of his most vital match-winning goals as City overcame Arsenal 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium in a pulsating affair that saw numerous saves and spurned chances.
In the fifty-third minute Balotelli managed to sting Szczesny’s palms in the Arsenal goal, but Silva was on-hand to pounce on the rebound in an uncharacteristically predatory moment from the Spaniard.
The goal proved enough to secure three points and return City to the top of the table in the intense battle with United…
#6 – Manchester United, 2012:
After United’s epic collapse at the end of the 2011/12 season, City needed three points as the two sides clashed in order to leap into first place and put one hand on the Premier League trophy.
In a tense encounter with few chances of note, it was an in-swinging corner from Silva that decided the game. It was whipped in with pace into the Goldilocks region of the six-yard line that is a nightmare to defend against. Vincent Kompany was gratefully on hand to power the ball home with his mighty head, scoring the only goal of the game courtesy of Silva’s precision.
#7 – QPR, 2012:
Another game, another in-swinging corner. This time it was Edin Dzeko who rose highest to nod in Silva’s menacing cross and set-up the most dramatic finish to any Premier League season you’ll ever experience. In the narrative of the nail-biting final games of City’s first Premier League trophy, Silva’s corner-taking skills occupy a prominent and privileged place.
#8 – Hull, 2014:
As City hunted their second Premier League title in March 2014, Silva produced one of his most dominant performances in a hard-fought 2-0 victory away at Hull City. Kompany was sent off after just ten minutes which left the game looking bleak for City.
However, four minutes later Silva thundered in an unstoppable strike from outside the box to gift City the lead. He continued to dictate the tempo of the game afterwards in a peerless display of his creative talents.
#9, Man United, 2018:
In the first derby of the 2018/19 season, it was Silva who opened the scoring at the Etihad Stadium as City looked to signal their ruthless intent in the title race. After an attack caused chaos in the United box and Smalling hauled down Aguero, the referee looked set to award a penalty until Silva managed to bundle the loose ball into the net, setting City on their way to a 3-1 derby success.
#10 – West Ham, 2017:
In December 2017, City had the chance to equal the Premier League record for consecutive wins in the competition. With the game tied at 1-1 at home to West Ham in the final ten minutes, de Bruyne whipped in a perfect ball that Silva was able to guide into the net in mid-air from a tight angle. The record then went on to be shattered as Guardiola’s side notched up eighteen successive victories.
#11 – Watford, 2019:
The chance to complete an unprecedented domestic treble was earned by City as they faced Watford at Wembley in the 2019 FA Cup final. It was left to Silva to break the deadlock as his side cruised to an emphatic 6-0 victory. It was a goal that epitomised why the Spaniard has endeared himself to City fans; in spite of his slight build and height, he is not afraid to get stuck in.
Silva successfully challenged the Watford full-back in an aerial challenge to nod the ball to Sterling who returned the favour, and Silva duly fired the ball past Gomes as City created history.
#12 – TBC?
With City still competing for three titles this season, there is a lot to play for. Real Madrid await in the Champions League. Silva’s powers may be waning as he enters the denouement of his career, but he remains an immensely useful asset in the midfield. His vision, composure and ability to orchestrate attacks remain dangerous.
Every Manchester City fan will be rooting for David Silva to create at least one more iconic moment in his final year. What a sight it would be to see the legend celebrate the award of the armband this season by hoisting at least one trophy into the air…
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