Why Manchester City Should Be Worried by David Silva's Ongoing Injury Woes
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After more than a week of no good news about Manchester City midfield magician David Silva, Richard Jolly of ESPNFC.com is reporting that "City manager Manuel Pellegrini is optimistic David Silva will be fit to return to the side for Sunday’s Manchester derby."
The manager's optimism is encouraging, no doubt, but nothing will truly be settled until City fans see Silva in the XI and moving unencumbered by the thigh injury he sustained on international duty with Spain. Thigh injuries are notoriously susceptible to recurrence, particularly for a smaller player like Silva who cannot rely on upper body strength or height to compensate for a lack of mobility.
Manchester City should be worried about David Silva's injury woes because he does things with the ball at his feet that no one else on City's roster can do.
City's 3-0 disassembly of Viktoria Plzen in their first match of Champions League group play purchased the Sky Blues a few days of quiet peace.
Starting with Sunday's derby with Manchester United at the Etihad, though, City will play five matches in 14 days.
That stretch ends with a brutal four days bookended by a Champions League visit from reigning champions Bayern Munich and a Premier League visit from currently unbeaten Everton—the club who just took down Chelsea.
The only real consolation to the compressed schedule is that four of the five matches are at home. Only a trip to Villa Park to take on a scuffling Aston Villa side breaks up the homestand.
This burst of high import matches comes at a bad time for City given Silva's role as primary distributor and ball hawk for a City side that often looks bereft of offensive ideas when Silva does not play.
You need look no further than the match film from Stoke City 0-0 Manchester City from last weekend to see how impotent City can look without Silva.
Tony Jones and Tony Gale, commenting on that match for NBC Sports' Premier League Extra Time web feed (which, full disclosure, was how I watched the match) noted as the match wore on that only Samir Nasri looked comfortable playing the ball at his feet.
Looking at that lineup for City, that should have come as no surprise. With Silva out, City manager Manuel Pellegrini started a midfield of Nasri, Yaya Toure, James Milner and Jack Rodwell.
Milner was making his first start of the Premier League season, and Rodwell was seeing his first league action for City of any kind.
All sorts of unfamiliar faces appeared against Stoke City—Stevan Jovetic and Aleksandar Kolarov also started—so perhaps it should not have been a shock that City could not ping the ball effortlessly around the pitch as they did in the season opener against Newcastle United.
But City were content to pass the ball in small triangles at midfield against Stoke City largely because no one had the requisite confidence or skill to turn and go up the field with it.
That used to be Yaya Toure's job, but at least in the early going this season Toure has become an odd combination of holding midfielder and free-kick specialist. That was supposed to be Kolarov's job, no?
Looking at City's roster, there are two dozen fantastic players that any side would be happy to have. But there are only three who are utterly irreplaceable.
Vincent Kompany is one. City's defensive struggles in his absence at Cardiff City and at Stoke City were directly attributable to Javi Garcia's inability to do even a passing Kompany impression.
Toure is still another, though he needs to come through with a few more of those terrifying stampedes up the center of the pitch with the ball seemingly obeying his telepathic commands to confirm his irreplaceable status.
Then there is Silva. The diminutive Spaniard is an American football quarterback and a basketball point guard rolled into one. He takes the ball where it needs to go and then distributes it to the teammate in the best position to score.
As the Champions League tension ramps up and the derby beckons, the thought of getting Silva back healthy and ready to contribute is reassuring to his manager, his teammate and the club's fans.
Having seen what they are without him, City must hope that Silva's latest knock will soon be forgotten.
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