The partnership that won it for Manchester City

by Julian Boland

With each Premier League season that goes by there is a partnership that defines a team; Liverpool’s attacking mantra summarized by the SAS, Suarez and Sturridge, Chelsea’s dominant defence summed up by the two rocks at the back, Gary Cahill and John Terry, and City’s pair was thought to be Beauty and the Beast, Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo, but this was wrong.

Not only was the partnership not even the best in the team, it didn’t even paint the right image of what Manchester City has been like this season, giving them a false identity. The true identity was painted by two artists, a partnership of art that would rival Michelangelo and Raphael, the partnership of two artistas that would be the heart of a Manchester City side needing colour, the partnership of David Silva and Samir Nasri.

When the season kicked off, most believed Samir Nasri and David Silva were too similar to be on the same pitch, only one being able to play. Manuel Pelegrinni seemed to agree with this belief at the start of the season, starting David Silva in the first game of the season in the starting eleven and Nasri on the bench, but soon the partnership of these two exploded into life on a canvas when played together.

The midfield pair of Samir Nasri and David Silva appear to mirror each other perfectly; both start on a wing but feel more comfortable cutting inside off their designated wings, both like to play short, quick one touch passes drawing triangles,  both are fast off the mark and good with their feet, and  just like when staring into a mirror, the kick of a right foot will appear as a left, this quality distilled between the two as Samir is right footed and David is left.

When starting for Manchester City, the pair of Samir Nasri and David Silva will start on opposite wings, but will end the match having covered each others starting touchline as well. When the ball is kicked off, the first thing the two will do is drift inside and call for the ball. The best example of the effectiveness of this unorthodox tactic was displayed when Manchester City beat Arsenal 6-3 at the fortress known as the Etihad. Both the Frenchman and the Spaniard came off their touchlines and swapped wings multiple times, getting the full back pairing of Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs dizzy and never having a solitary moment of peace. The amount of runs each made in behind the line of defence was remarkable given that Arsenal’s back four was one of the strongest in the league, having conceded only eleven goals in fifteen matches, the fullbacks never picking up the runs as they constantly lost their marker.

When drifting inside, Gibbs and Sagna didn’t know whether to follow them, being drawn out of position, or stay where they were. When they chose to follow the Frenchman or Spaniard, they were made to pay as Manchester City’s fullbacks performed over lapping runs, given time and space to pick the perfect final ball. When though, they chose to ignore the runs and dribbles of the two midfield maestros cutting in, they paid the price twice, as the quick feet of Samir Nasri wore out those of the big German Per Mertesacker, while David Silva’s ballet graced Laurient Koscielny.

The quick, creative one touch style of David Silva and Samir Nasri both bring out the best in each other, teaching midfielders and defenders basic geometry lessons, drawing shapes with their intricate passes around them. This quality has opened up many teams, with players not even getting near the ball. A great show presented by these by two was the own goal scored by Glen Johnston in the much-anticipated ‘Title Decider’ between Liverpool and Manchester City. Both were in the hive of the Merseyside’s box, swarmed by the Liverpool defence, but managed to play a short, quick one-two, which gave Silva the chance to dispatch a deadly ball, resulting in a goal. When these two perform plays such as those they rival William Shakespeare, with the duo leaving their English audience delighted and in awe just like the latter.

A strong part of each of their game is the fact that both are quick and agile, easily able to glide past defenders easily with the ball glued to their feet. The dancing feet of Nasri paired with the ballet grace of David Silva compliment each other. Nasri lives for one-on-one situation with defenders, usually dropping the shoulder or pulling something out such as step overs from his bag of tricks. David Silva though thrives off multiple defenders driving towards him, giving his teammates more space to operate in and a chance to pick out the killer pass to gut the defence.

With so many qualities shared between the two, there has to be something different, and the preferred footing is that something. With Nasri right footed and Silva left, they are able to offer something different to each other when they are on opposite wings and swap over. They are able to punt hopeful and killer crosses into the box with their respective foot, giving varieties of balls, and shoot with their respective foot. When cutting inside, Nasri pulls the trigger with his right, Silva with his left, this leaving the defenders dumbfounded as when they are swapping and crossing over the field, they can’t press the both of them to use the same foot, having to change their tactics multiple times.

In what has been a season that City have won their games mostly from within the midfield, the partnership of David Silva and Samir Nasri has blossomed, being a thing of beauty more than a football relationship. It has left fans with a sweet taste in their mouths hoping to see more of this love story next season when City defend their English crown.

1 Response

  1. Johnno says:

    They do have the awesome benefit of Toure and Fernadinho covering for them though.

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