This time last year, Vincent Kompany was hailed as the best centre-back in the Premier League and one of the best in the world. Now he has been sidelined with an injury he suffered in the infamous defeat to Manchester United, forced to watch from the stands as his team managed to keep three clean sheets in four matches without their captain. He has been criticised for his performances, highlighted by poor positioning and judgement which led to many errors, costing City in their quest for the title. Here we will take a look at how much of a down season this has been for Kompany and what to expect from him next season.
Last season Kompany was a rock at the heart of the Citizens’ defence. He was one of the three key men in City’s campaign for the English title along with Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure. At the end of the campaign, the Belgian skipper got to lift the Premier League trophy, the second time in the last three years for his club. He was also named in the PFA Team of the Year. Fast forward one year and the City captain got nowhere near that honour. In fact, none of the Sky Blue players with the exception of Sergio Aguero got close. So what has changed for Kompany compared to last season?
When we look at individual stats from this and last season both in the Premier League and Champions League, one of the standout statistics is the number of defensive errors Kompany has made. This season, he has made 3 defensive errors, 2 of which led to a goal, compared to the one defensive error last season which did not result in a goal. In the Champions League he has not made an error either year.
However when the other statistics are compared, we can tell that Kompany has actually improved in the Premier League in the most important areas of defending compared to last season. This year he has averaged 2.13 interceptions, last season it was just 1.92. He has also managed 5.56 clearances, that’s 1 less than in City’s title winning campaign. He has improved his tackling as well by winning 1.75 tackles, he has lost exactly the same amount of them. However last season he has only won 1.25 tackles per game and lost 1.79. The Belgian defender also won a higher percentage of his aerial duels (72.73%) and total duels (55.26%), last year he has won just 62.30% of his aerial duels and 47.25% of his total duels.
The areas of his game in which his numbers are worse than last season are blocks, where his number stands at 0.53 compared to 0.63 last year, and the number of aerial duels won which now stands at 1.22, while last year it was 1.70.
We can see a similar pattern in Kompany’s Champions League statistics. Again the Belgian has had a higher number of interceptions (4) and clearances (4.14) than last season when he managed 3.75 interceptions and 4 clearances. He has also improved on the number of tackles lost, which this year stand at 1.43 compared to 2.75 last season, a category in which he has managed great improvement. Kompany also improved in all statistics containing aerial duels. For the start he has won 0.86 aerial duels per game, while last year that number was just 0.5. Both this and last season, he has won 66.67% of his aerial duels. However this season, he has won 53.66% of all his duels when last season it was just 44.74%.
In last season’s Champions League campaign, the two areas in which Kompany topped this season was the number of blocks he has made and the number of tackles he won. The City skipper managed just 0.57 blocks this season while last year, he blocked 1 shot per game. His number of tackles won stood at 3 per game last season, meanwhile this season that number ended just at 1.71.
The Belgian international has helped his team to only 7 clean sheets this season, but in their title winning campaign last season they kept 9 with Kompany in the side for the full 90 minutes. In 2013/2014, they allowed 30 goals with Kompany starting, however this season that number stands at 23.
When comparing statistics, we can actually see that Kompany has improved his numbers in many areas compared to the title winning season. So how is it possible that last season he was hailed as the best central defender in England and this season he has been criticised for his overall performances? Well, football is mainly down to teamwork, and unlike last season when Manchester City looked mostly like a well oiled machine, this season they have experienced some setbacks and glitches. Pellegrini often stubbornly deployed a 4-4-2 formation with two strikers rather than the 4-2-3-1 which has brought them success last year. This change in formation left more space in central midfield for the opposition to exploit, particularly when some midfielders refuse to track back as has been highlighted particularly in City’s defeats to Liverpool and Manchester United earlier this year.
Another factor has been the downfall of Yaya Toure in midfield, who has been a force going both forward and backward. However this season, the midfielder has come under criticism for not tracking back and leaving his two centre-backs without any protection. Kompany has never been known for his pace and with strikers being allowed to run at him and his defensive partner, they can exploit one of his few weaknesses. If there is one thing defenders hate, it is a striker running at them with acres of space to dribble into, that is exactly what has been happening in City’s defence this year with Toure’s drop off.
The statistics clearly show that Kompany has had more to do this season and he has improved overall in many aspects, however the fact he was left unprotected in midfield on numerous occasions and the Citizens’ rather wretched form in 2015 contributed to the image of a poor season with poor performances. While the captain has made errors this season, it does not fully go down as his fault. The whole team has to be willing to track back as much as they are willing to attack. If the Citizens want to launch a title challenge next season, they have to start by sticking together as a team and working as a team. Otherwise they will not lift the Premier League trophy, even when they have individuals such as Aguero, Silva and Kompany in the team.