David Silva struggles on his first league start since early October
Published 05/12/2015 | 15:11
Barclays Premier League high-fliers Manchester City were without Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure at the Britannia Stadium, but they were able to call upon David Silva again against Stoke.
The diminutive Spaniard started alongside summer signings Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling for the first time since City scored six against Newcastle at the start of October.
Here, Press Association Sport assesses Silva's impact versus the Potters.
While Xherdan Shaqiri was carving out opportunity after opportunity at one end, Silva was struggling as his own's team's playmaker. The 29-year-old was still spotting passes but a strong wind was ensuring his attempts were failing to find their intended targets. The poor movement of Wilfried Bony was not helping Silva, who must have wished partner-in-crime Sergio Aguero was his team's fulcrum.
City's entire XI were out-worked and out-fought in the first half and they certainly lost the midfield battle against Mark Hughes' men. Silva, not famed for his work in the hustle and bustle in the middle of the park, was guilty of putting in weak challenges. He also offered little support to the shield of Fernando and Fernandinho on an afternoon when they were torn to shreds by the hosts' creative players.
Silva usually thrives in the pockets of space between defence and midfield yet those areas were denied him by Glenn Whelan and Geoff Cameron. He moved across the pitch in search of it, while Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling both swapped flanks to try and make something happen, to no avail. Silva even dropped deeper at times in a bid to involve himself more, but it was not to be his day.
Silva's biggest contribution on the match would lead to a Stoke goal. It was his pass that gifted Stoke possession in the move which culminated in Arnautovic's second goal, although blame should also lie at the door of others, notably Fernando and Bacary Sagna. Ultimately City needed more from their tricky midfielder on a day when he was overshadowed by Stoke's Swiss genius and replaced just after the hour.