Unlikely duo leading Manchester City early in season


David Silva and James Milner have been the keys to Manchester City’s early start which has them positioned 2nd in the league. But it’s not a pair that you’d expect to see mesh so perfectly.

One is a Spanish born midfielder, raised during the era of tiki-taka and is often called a magician. The other is a hard-nosed winger/midfielder/defender/do-it-all player who excels not at one thing, but is above average at many.

Silva has been City’s maestro for many years. Whether he plays out wide in centrally, the Spaniard has an eye for the attack that few others possess. Jamie Carragher, analyst for Sky Sports and former Liverpool great, recently had this to say about Silva.

"Carragher said: “One player you would love to watch, no matter who you support- it would be him.“Couple of other Spaniards like him – (Santi) Cazorla and (Juan) Mata – he’s two or three levels above them. You never see him get tackled, you can’t get near him.“His awareness is the best in world football, (Andres) Iniesta and Xavi are the nearest level to him. He’s something special.”"

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Any comparisons that can be drawn to Iniesta and Xavi are high praises, but they’re certainly worthwhile. While he has just two assists this season, his 2.7 key passes a game rank him 7th in the Premier League and his average of 71 passes per game is the most by an attacking midfielder in the Premier League. Of attacking midfielders with at least seven appearances this season, Silva ranks only behind Eden Hazard, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Dusan Tadic in whoscored.com’s average match rating, coming in at a 7.24 (and it’s safe to say Silva sees much more of the ball/responsibility of workload than Sigurdsson and Tadic).

However, of nearly all those stats listed, one City player ranks higher than Silva: James Milner.

Milner averages 3.2 key passes a contest, 3rd in the Premier League. which ranks him 13th among all midfielders. For fans looking for an idea of Milner’s contributions, look no further than the match against top-of-the-table Chelsea.

Milner started the match at right mid and was playing great for the first hour of the contest. However, after a Pablo Zabaleta red card, Milner dropped back to right back spot until City could get a sub on. After Manuel Pellegrini brought off Fernandinho for Jesus Navas, Milner shifted to central midfield. After just a handful of minutes there, Milner moved to the left side of the pitch, originally playing as left back before pushing forward as a left mid.

And it was in that left mid spot that Milner cutback to Lampard first time off a beautiful Silva lofted pass that led to the goal to tie up the contest.

Milner’s ability to play essentially wherever is needed has made him invaluable to City, a club full of world-class talent and attacking-minded players. According again to whoscored.com, Milner is the top midfielder (and second overall) in average match rating, with Silva the second best midfielder.

Quite simply this duo has fueled City to their hot start this season.