Last season, Manchester City fared markedly worse without Spanish international David Silva in the starting line-up, winning 75 per cent of their all-competition matches when the former Valencia maestro was in from the off, which dropped to 62 per cent in his absence from the XI.
This season, the newly-minted champions have been rather a lot better without Silva, winning 63 per cent of the time to 38 per cent with the 28-year-old in the side, including the last three on the spin.
Confused? Us too, so we’ve shone the spotlight on three of City’s unsung heroes of the campaign so far in order to understand better.
The fellow Spaniard has been the main beneficiary of Silva’s dodgy knees of late, starting seven of the past eight matches under Manuel Pellegrini and chipping in with a couple of Premier League assists since the end of October.
However, Navas’ efforts in pressing and harrying opponents, which was in evidence throughout the recent 3-0 win away to top-flight springers Southampton, has arguably been even more important.
The former Arsenal defender was named man of the match by WhoScored.com against the Saints after finishing off Ronald Koeman’s men with the third goal, but his tireless work alongside Navas in keeping Serbian dangerman Dusan Tadic quiet clearly helped Clichy claim the gong.
Having created 40 chances in the top flight so far this term, six of which have been converted into goals, Tadic was reduced to pot-shots at St Mary’s, with the champions’ left-side shackles not giving the former Twente man an inch.
The former Chelsea hero is another to have benefitted hugely from Silva’s absence in recent weeks, with Lampard getting game-time in each of City’s last four all-competition fixtures and playing every minute of the 3-2 Champions League home win over FC Bayern Munchen.
Despite starting just four matches for the Citizens, Lampard’s crucial second against the Saints means he has now notched five this term, which is a mighty return for a 36-year-old biding his time before moving to New York, frankly.