Football Features

Silva vs Salah? Guardiola’s ‘best in Premier League’ claim backed as Man City beat Watford to go top

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 21:00, 4 December 2021


Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola can often be guilty of hyperbole but few would disagree with his latest assessment regarding Bernardo Silva.

The 27-year-old Portuguese midfielder is riding on the crest of a wave and before their showdown at Watford the Catalan tactician made his present opinion of the ex-Monaco man known.

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“He is the best,” he said following their recent 1-2 win at Aston Villa. “He was the best two or three seasons ago. He was the best then too. He has a special ability to do whatever he wants with the ball. Against a good goalkeeper it was an incredible finish.”

To say Silva is red hot would be an understatement. Heading into Vicarage Road the Lisbon native has bagged five goals across 14 appearances subsequently making him City’s leading marksman this season.

It didn’t take him long to increase that number when he breached Claudio Ranieri’s goal just after the half hour mark in the process doubling City’s lead after Raheem Sterling had put them in front before the fifth minute. Silva wasn’t done yet as he grabbed a brace 18 minutes after the break meaning City’s ‘number 20’ had equalled his best ever goalscoring return in a single Premier League campaign (seven across 36 appearances in 2018/19).

Silva filling his boots, though, should have been expected as he’s now scored more Premier League goals against Watford (5) than he has versus any other club. On top of that, Silva has scored six goals in his last eight Premier League appearances for Manchester City, which is one more than in his previous 61 games in the competition.

Cucho Hernandez, who came off the bench, pulled one back for the Hornets but they couldn’t rally as City ended the day’s proceedings nestled top of the young championship table. The defending champions are one point clear of Liverpool with Chelsea a further digit behind.

Following his recent words, Guardiola certainly felt vindicated after full-time. “I want to say thank you, because after what I said, the performance he has done – he didn’t make me wrong. So thank you. He did me well. He is so important for us,” he told Sky Sports afterwards.

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Now many are pondering whether Silva really is the absolute best in England’s top division this season. When it comes to pure scoring Silva presently trails compatriot Diogo Jota (8), Jamie Vardy and Mohamed Salah (13); the latter is also the Premier League’s most creative star having provided no fewer than nine assists in 15 appearances.

But if you were to ask Silva he’d rather put his team in front of any individual achievement. “This season I’ve been scoring a lot and I’ll try to keep it that way. What matters is that we’re top of the league now and the team are doing very well at the moment. At the end of the season we want to celebrate some titles,” he said.

“My first four goals this season were all tap-ins. My last few goals have been quite good, but it doesn’t matter – what matters is putting the ball in the back of the net. I’m happy to help the team.

“We know we don’t have a striker. [We] have a lot of players who try to get in the box and finish. We try to put numbers in the box. If we arrive in the box, we’re going to score goals. We’re happy with the moment and happy with our form. We have to keep working because this season is going to be very tough.”

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