Silva was charged with keeping up with Arsenal star Bukayo Saka down that side of the field, so Nathan Ake, who had been City’s regular left-back previously, was moved into a central position.
Mixed results were obtained from it, but Silva finally found himself back in the attack after a second-half substitution that saw Manuel Akanji shift to the left and Ake join the defense.
It’s interesting to note that Silva had previously played left-back. Silva was actually used as a defender by then-manager Jorge Jesus while he was at Benfica, where he developed his skills before breaking out following his 2014 move to Monaco, and it affected his choice to quit the team.
Silva was questioned by El Pais about the veracity of accusations that Jesus attempted to deploy him as a left-back during practice.
“It wasn’t in training, it was during a pre-season in friendlies,” Silva said. “I came up [from the academy] with the intention of staying in the first team, but the coach didn’t count on me and put me at left-back.
“I played one game in the league and at the end of the season he told me that he wanted me to go for another year with the B Team. I felt this was not the best option for me, so I decided to leave and found Monaco.”
Silva played a similar role in City’s 3-1 victory over Aston Villa, although his duties in that contest were very different. Instead of playing the typical left-back position that Benfica had envisioned for him, the Portugal international played as an inverted full-back and spent a lot more time in central midfield, a position in which City are not very strong.
Only Sergio Gomez, who was a winger as recently as the 2020–21 season, remains as a natural fit for the position following Joao Cancelo’s January transfer to Bayern Munich.
Both Ake and Rico Lewis, a right-back, have been used on the left, and Silva now seems to have established himself as a choice.