Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany are two names that are crucial to Manchester City’s spine, so it would have come as a huge shock to City fans to see the pair missing for Saturday’s game with Tottenham Hotspur.
Given the 4-1 defeat, Man City’s heaviest Premier League defeat since a 0-3 defeat to Liverpool in April 2011, it is clear the pair were greatly missed.
Hart’s place on the bench was put down by manager Manuel Pellegrini as being due to a minor back injury sustained during the week.
Unfortunately one of the defining images from Saturday’s match was the sight of his replacement Willy Caballero frantically waving his arms and screaming at his defensive colleagues.
The Argentine’s positioning for the first goal was questionable, and this problem became all the more apparent in the second-half.
For Toby Alderweireld’s goal Caballero found himself in the infamous goalkeeping no-mans-land, attempting to claim a ball which he had no chance of catching, denying himself what should have been a comfortable save had he stayed on his line.
The three goals City conceded after the break at White Hart Lane were the first they conceded in the second half of a Premier League game this season.
In front of Caballero were his two Argentine compatriots Nicolás Otamendi and Martín Demichelis, and despite their qualities, it was clear that City were missing their captain.
Kompany, having been declared fit by Pellegrini in Friday’s press conference, was not even able to take his place on the bench, pulling out of his role as a substitute following the Citizens’ warm up after feeling unwell.
It is no coincidence that in the first five Premier League games in which Kompany started, City won them all without conceding a goal, while the Belgian powerhouse had also scored two in that period.
The Citizens have since conceded six Premier League goals in the games in which the centre-back didn’t feature, losing them both, clearly showing the importance of the City’s captain.
Outrageously there were claims towards the end of last season and over the summer that Kompany was not the force he once was in the Premier League, but despite the impressive starts to the season from Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolás Otamendi, it is Kompany who remains pivotal.
City will hope that their captain is ready to line up alongside Hart to form the spine of the team on Wednesday, when the team looks to get their Champions League campaign up and running at Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Image courtesy of Manchester City, via Youtube, with thanks.