Manchester City find themselves six points off the Premier League’s summit after a 2-1 defeat to title rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
After the club’s blistering start to the new campaign, there have been some significant setbacks that have put Manuel Pellegrini under increasing levels pressure. Heavy defeats to Liverpool and Tottenham, both 4-1, will have the Etihad Stadium side second guessing themselves, while the loss to Arsenal is also, albeit to a lesser extent, a concern.
Looking at the Citizens’ season to date, periods of success and inconsistency can be determined around the fitness and availability of captain Vincent Kompany.
City were again without their skipper for the trip to north London, with the Belgian’s absence adding to the contrasting fortunes the team have had with and without their key defender.
Due to debilitating injuries and repeated setbacks, the former Hamburg enforcer has only been able to start eight Premier League games this season, largely in the early weeks of the new campaign. In the eight games Kompany has played, City went unbeaten, winning six of the clashes and drawing the other two. Perhaps even more tellingly, Pellegrini’s side have only conceded one goal while their talisman has been on the pitch.
Looking at these statistics in comparison to when Kompany has not played makes for stark reading. Including the defeat to Arsenal, the Belgian centre-half has missed nine games this term, with five of these resulting in defeat. Compared to the one goal conceded in the eight games he has played, City have let in a whopping 18 without their skipper.
These statistics clearly show the importance of the central defender to the club’s chances of success, with the available deputies not able to fill his shoes.
Nicolas Otamendi has looked like the most impressive of the three additional options at the heart of Pellegrini’s rearguard, but the Argentine is still getting to grips with English football after a summer move to the Etihad Stadium from Valencia. Eliaquim Mangala meanwhile continues to make costly errors – including giving the ball away for Arsenal’s second goal at the Emirates – with the Frenchman a physical force, but an ill-disciplined and positionally suspect one. Martin Demichelis has also been used by City, but the ageing South American looks out of his depth and to be heading towards the end of his career.
Although City have world-beaters across the park and depend on the likes of Joe Hart, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, it is plain to see that Kompany is the team’s most important player.
All of the other Premier League title hopefuls have a defensive leader at the heart of their respective back lines, so Kompany’s return for City is essential if the club are to win their third Premier League title in five years.