Sunday 23 July 2017

Silva finds warmth in the cold

Simon Stone

David Silva has urged his Manchester City team-mates to get over Monday night's blip against Everton and make sure they are in the Premier League title reckoning come May.

City would have celebrated Christmas Day on top of the table for the first time since 1929 had they beaten Everton on Monday, but went down 2-1 at Eastlands.

It took Silva a bit of time to adapt after his summer move from Valencia but he is starting to flourish and two City player of the month awards on the trot emphasise what a fans' favourite the Spain star has become.

"I have settled in but I owe a lot to my team-mates because they helped make the process a lot quicker," said Silva, whose side visit Newcastle today. "The games in England are very competitive. So many sides can make life very hard for you. It is a real challenge. But we are going okay at the moment. Now we must continue so we are in the final shake-up."

Silva knows he could have avoided the snow and given himself Christmas off by staying in Spain - but feels life is much more interesting at Eastlands. La Liga has shut down for a couple of weeks to give players and fans a break, and an opportunity to enjoy the festivities.

Not so in England, where Silva is about to experience the usual crush of four games in just over a week, which will do so much to shape the season as a whole.

Monday's defeat in freezing temperatures, has led to accusations that the Blues' expensively-assembled, cosmopolitan band, only show their best form in milder weather. It is an accusation that does not quite square with reality, as Silva is quick to point out.

"Come on. It was very cold when we played our last few away games; the coldest it has been. At Fulham we were very good and won comfortably. The cold suits us fine."

Silva will hope those words ring true today. The Magpies gave Roberto Mancini's men a tough examination at Eastlands earlier this season, in a game that was marred by the broken leg suffered by Hatem Ben Arfa.

Revenge will be uppermost in the hosts' minds for an eventual defeat and the installation of Alan Pardew in place of Chris Hughton since that day adds another dimension to an intriguing contest.

Speculation that Mario Balotelli has been axed is hardly a surprise given his ineffective performance against the Toffees and Mancini's public demand for greater enthusiasm from a player who rates himself almost on a par with Lionel Messi.

Silva has more claim to be of that standard, and he is unlikely to make such lofty boasts. For now though, he is happy with life, sure that for all the freezing conditions, he made the right decision to abandon the sun of Valencia. "City showed a real interest in me from the outset and they were the ones who made an offer for me," he said.

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