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article imageDavid Silva plays space invader as Manchester City thump Spurs

By Tyrrell Meertins     Jan 29, 2014 in Sports
Tim Sherwood’s appointment as Tottenham manager has been identified as the key factor in the North London side's recent success.
Two months ago, Andre Villas-Boas’ high-line was exposed, as City thrashed Spurs at the Ethiad Stadium. The main talking point, however, has been Spurs’ tactical modifications since the Portuguese manager was sacked. Sherwood has adopted a 4-4-2 formation that Villas-Boas was reluctant to use, along with recalling Emmanuel Adebayor to the first-team.
In fear of enduring another drubbing at home, many questioned whether Sherwood would alter his tactics, and field a natural holding midfielder against City – a role that is non-existent to the English manager. "I never used to play with one [holding midfielder] – I used to play with two who can do everything, one goes up, one stays back, just be clever and adapt around each other. That's what City have with Yaya Toure and Fernandinho,” Sherwood said.
Surprisingly, Sherwood altered his tactics and played with Adebayor as the lone striker, while Christian Eriksen sat in the no.10 role. Aaron Lennon and Gylfi Sigurdsson sat narrow without the ball, and both were responsible in containing City’s marauding fullbacks. The English manager stuck to his word and left Etienne Capoue on the bench, meaning Moussa Dembele and Nabil Bentaleb were paired in midfield.
Spurs didn’t press City, but they instructed their wingers to sit in narrow positions to close down passing lanes. The main issue Spurs encountered was their ability to cope with David Silva. Although, City’s early direct approach placed Sergio Aguero in great positions to pose a threat in the final third, the Spaniard was instrumental in City’s attack. "Unfortunately for everyone they play, they don't just score one and shut up shop, they keep coming. If anyone is going to win the league you want a team like this to do it because they entertain,” Sherwood said.
Silva is a diminutive, technically gifted playmaker that laterally glides from the left flank, in search of space. The Spaniard’s ability to receive the ball and shift in either direction mesmerizes defenders and his clever, intricate passes ignite attacks, and allow City to dictate the tempo of the match.
The Spaniard was the most influential figure on the pitch – he located pockets of space to receive the ball, and dropped into deep central positions to provide an additional passing option in midfield. Silva freely glided in between the lines to receive a pass from Vincent Kompany and played defence-splitting ball to Aguero, who provided a sublime finish past Hugo Lloris.
Capoue was introduced in the second half for the injured Dembele, and he quickly stamped his authority on the match, committing a cynical foul against Silva. Subsequently, Silva received a pass from Gael Clichy and played a clever pass to Fernandinho that pulled Capoue and Eriksen out of position – thus leading to the Brazilian’s pass to Dzeko, which resulted in a penalty shot. The Spaniard wasn’t finished there: within minutes, Silva dropped into space to receive Pablo Zabaleta’s cut back, and he evaded a challenge before his shot ricocheted off the post, but Dzeko tapped in the rebound.
Silva’s 93% pass completion rate – 95% in the final third – and a match-high pass combination with Fernandinho (17) displayed his dual role. Silva’s guile, and creativity in the final third produced goals, but his willingness to retain possession exemplifies his aforementioned statistics.
City was exceptional for large portions of the match – Kompany was imperious at the back, and wasted opportunities from Dzeko and Aguero saved Spurs from a possible onslaught. Spurs offered a threat through Danny Rose down the left hand side, and Eriksen’s set-pieces, but they rarely created legitimate goal-scoring opportunities. "Away from home maybe that is the best we have played. We missed at least five or six clear chances. We defended well, that's why the performance was complete,” Pellegrini said.
This was another example of City’s superiority, and growth under Manuel Pellegrini, as their chances of re-claiming the Premier League title increase weekly. Without Alvaro Negredo, Aguero, and Samir Nasri, Silva’s admiration of space guided Pellegrini’s men to the top of the table – and very few would argue that they don’t deserve to be there.
More about David Silva, Manchester city, Spurs, Tottenham, Tim sHER
 
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