It wasn’t supposed to be this tough. Pep Guardiola was set to lead a revolution at Manchester City this season after a fine start left the Spaniard primed for his seventh league title, in his third country, but then the wheels came off.
After kicking off his reign with six consecutive victories, City won just one in five, and heavy defeats to Chelsea, Leicester City and Everton led suggestions they were in crisis.
The pressure was on. And this weekend, hosting struggling Swansea City, there could be no more slip-ups.
New signing Gabriel Jesus came to the rescue on Sunday, but it was David Silva who masterminded the win, scoring an impressive 95 on the Goal Pressure Index, presented by Sure and powered by Opta data, which provides the first ever system to measure and rate a team and player’s performance under pressure.
The Goal Pressure Index uses more than 750,000 data points as well as factors including league position, point in the season and the opposition to calculate a rating out of 100 for every Premier League player every week.
Swansea were penned back from the outset, and City turned to their chief creator to break through as they searched relentlessly for an early goal to calm the nerves.
And Silva didn’t disappoint. Picking up the ball up on the left in the tenth minute, he popped it through Federico Fernandez’ legs before his cut-back saw Gabriel Jesus fly in to volley home.
It was the perfect start on a weekend when Liverpool and Arsenal had dropped points in a brutal race for UEFA Champions League qualification.
Silva was running the show as City dominated the first period, with only a cynical foul from Fernandez preventing Silva from doubling City’s lead shortly after.
And he quickly went close again, charging in to very nearly deflect home a second after Raheem Sterling burst into the box.
Guardiola’s men looked set to steamroll the Swans, but their early cohesion and dominance disappeared after the break, as tensions returned to the Etihad Stadium.
Gylfi Sigurdsson hit the post with a long-range free-kick before Alfie Mawson was granted the freedom of the penalty area from a corner, only to send his free-header wide.
And when Sigurdsson equalised with a low drive with less than 10 minutes to go, it looked like being another afternoon of disappointment for Pep, the groans growing ever louder as the game ticked into stoppage time.
But, with just seconds left to play, Silva took control once more. Picking up the ball on the right, he made room for a cross before delivering a pinpoint ball onto Jesus’ head for the winner.
Silva created four intentional chances this weekend, more than any other player in the Premier League.
Two of his colleagues also scored high on the Goal Pressure Index, presented by Sure, with Jesus earning a 92 while Yaya Toure scored a 93 for completing 93 of his 95 passes versus Swansea.
EPL newcomer M'Baye Niang, with 94, was second only to Silva after creating a league-best two big chances on his Watford debut, while Romelu Lukaku matched his score by finding the net with all four of his shots on target in Everton’s 6-3 win over Bournemouth.