Rested. Dropped. Say what you will but Vincent Kompany was sat on the bench looking anxious when his team came out victorious in a must-win game against Leicester City at the Etihad in midweek that has kept them alive in the race to the summit. The Belgian hasn’t been at his resolute best it has to be said this season with the defender particularly unconvincing in what we call the ‘season defining‘ games, 3 of which have been played after the turn of the new year – Arsenal, Barcelona in the Champions League and Liverpool, results which could have potentially ended Man City’s ambitions of retaining the league and going further in the Champions League. What has gone wrong then for a player who was and is still regarded as one of the best central defenders in Europe and how does he compare with his form of last season when he lifted what was Man City’s second league title in three years?
Vincent Kompany in 2013/14
No beating around the bush, Vincent made 28 appearances last season and after two brief injury spells early on, he went on to feature in 24 of the last 25 games in the league. There’s little doubt that the Sky Blues looked a better defensive unit with him marshalling the back four than when he was out sidelined through injury/injuries, which is evident from the fact that Manchester City lost 6 games last season in the Premier League in total but only half as many times when the Belgian was on the starting eleven. Kompany averaged a 50% success rate when it came to tackles (46 successful out of 92) and ended the season with an even more impressive aerial duel success rate – a staggering 73% success where he’d won the ball 32 out of 44 times. The Belgian, often lauded for being old school, coming out of the blocks and sticking one in nice and early, had committed a meagre 32 fouls and got himself sent off once in the game against Hull City and add to that the 6 yellow cards he received at an average of 1 in every 4.5 games.
Vincent Kompany was normally central to whatever his team did at the back, the skipper had completed 146 clearances , 14 blocks and 56 interceptions at an average of 8 defensive actions per game which tells you he’s had a good season, if not vintage.
Vincent Kompany – The season so far
To start with, Kompany did not suffer an early injury blow which some would have thought he would after a tiring tournament in Brazil where he’d led his side to the Quarter Finals of the World Cup only to be defeated by the eventual runners-up Argentina. But his performances haven’t been on par, bar the odd game, both in England and abroad. Manchester City would win just 2 games in their first five and from then on Vincent Kompany epitomised Man City’s steady decline in the level of displays that we’d expect from him. Kompany has made 19 appearances so far and has been in the starting 11, playing the whole 90 mins in all the 4 losses that they have endured up until game-week 28 – not quite the same driving force eh? Talking about numbers, the Belgian has hit a 41% tackle success rate coupled with a 59% success at winning the aerial battles – not much of a difference when compared to last season but this shows he’s having a poorer season than the previous without a shadow of doubt. He’s committed 38 fouls already (6 yellows in 19) with a good 10 games to go in the league and also averages 7 defensive actions per game – 1 shy of last season and 2 less than the 2012/13 campaign.
It’s the big games where the top players are usually at their best, coming to the fore, but Vincent Kompany has failed to deliver in most of them crunch games in the league this season. Even in the 1-0 win against Manchester United for instance, the Skipper had his moments of madness and was well short of his best against Arsenal where his mistimed tackle would lead to a successful Arsenal penalty, against Barcelona and Liverpool where he was run ragged by the likes of Suarez/Messi and Coutinho/Sterling respectively.
What’s not up then?
Some would put that performance against Arsenal and the two games that followed (Chelsea and Hull) down to the fitness of Kompany not being up to scratch but the issue goes deeper than that in my opinion. Against Barcelona at home and Liverpool away from it, Kompany looked uncharacteristically shaky and it all seemed like the man needed a bit of a respite (Remember Joe Hart last season?) which would get him up to speed ahead of the crucial run-in to the season where anything could happen as far as title race is concerned.
It’s a no-brainer we are looking at someone who’d literally walk into every Premier League side arguably and also improve most teams in Europe but this is the first time in his 6 and a half year love affair with the blue half of Manchester that his position is genuinely in question with fellow central defenders Demichelis and Mangala beginning to strike a good partnership at the heart of City’s back four. But Kompany is smart enough to understand the significance of his presence in that Blues camp with him now having become more of an ambassador who’s got a voice off the pitch as much as on it and the testament to that is the heart-felt words of his fans’ song “City loves you more than you will know” sung around the terraces and it’s only matter of time until he’s back to his impeccable best showing them exactly why they care so much for their beloved leader.