City star outshone United's £37m man...but not as much as you'd think

Manchester City midfielder David Silva impressed against Manchester United, but Juan Mata almost matched him in many areas.

The way Manchester City started the match against Manchester United on Tuesday evening, the home fans must have feared a humiliation akin to the 6-1 defeat of 2011.

Ultimately City only managed half that total, but in the early spell the Blues were rampant, with David Silva at the heart of much of their good work.  By the end, Fernandinho had pipped him to the man-of-the-match award, and rightly so, but Silva's performance prompted me to look at how he compared with Juan Mata.

After all, United had spent £37.1million on the Spaniard surely hoping he could do for them what Silva regularly does for Manuel Pellegrini's side.

Before I looked at the stats, I expected Silva to have trounced Mata in all the key areas, but it was actually far closer than I had imagined.

Silva had just six more touches than his countryman, and made just three more accurate passes.  He also played just a single key pass, while Mata failed to make any. The two players were however level when it came to scoring attempts.

PlayerMatchMatchdayTouchesAccurate PassFwd PassKey PassTotal Scoring AttMins
David Silva Man Utd vs Man City 28 90 60 24 1 2 90
Juan Mata Man Utd vs Man City 28 84 57 14 0 2 90

But the one area I considered in which Silva did considerably better than Mata is perhaps the most revealing as to why City enjoyed such a vibrant start and ultimately took the victory.

Silva played 10 more forward passes than Mata, which shows that United's club-record signing, as well as a number of his teammates, it has to be said, were just not direct enough.

Watching United these days it is telling how slow they are in their build-up play.  And that was the case again on Tuesday.  While City spilled forward, David Moyes' side took their time, too much time in fact, allowing the Blues to form in impenetrable barrier time and again.

Mata has shown in glimpses that he is rediscovering the form that made him so effective at Chelsea - his performance against West Ham a prime example - but he must take a leaf out of Silva's book.

After all, it is one thing almost matching an opponent in many areas, but quite another to take the game by the scruff of the neck and drive forward, putting your mark on the match rather than allowing another to do just that.

Register for MANCHESTER CITY team updates

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch