Two unfamiliar sights were witnessed by the crowd at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon. Manchester City’s captain, Vincent Kompany, scored, and perhaps more remarkably, completed his second set of 90 minutes in as many weeks.
The Belgian international put in a man of the match display as the Citizens disposed of a frustrated Southampton side 3-0. But, as crucial as the three points were for City in their quest for Champions League football, another rare appearance of their skipper was even more significant.
Kompany has started just 21 of Manchester City’s last 102 games, and his influence has been severely missed. Prior to the Southampton game, City had kept just eight clean sheets in the league this season. Kompany’s commanding influence ensured that stat increased to nine, with a masterclass at both ends of the pitch.
The two-time Premier League champions have often looked frail at the back in their captain’s absence this season, and his commanding display showed glimpses of what might have been this season for Guardiola’s men. The centre-half’s performance oozed quality, leadership and determination. There can be no doubting the big Belgian’s class.
The FA Cup may still be on the cards for the Sky Blues, but had Kompany been fit for the majority of this season who knows how well they might have fared in the league and in Europe.
Not only did the 31-year-old produce an imperious display at the back, but he also managed to net his first Premier League goal since he scored in the 3-0 win over Chelsea, back in August 2015.
The goal was trademark Kompany, forcing a header home from David Silva’s corner. But it was the celebration, which held a resemblance to the goal the captain scored against Manchester United on the way to City’s first Premier League triumph, that was perhaps most pertinent.
The skipper’s overwhelming jubilation was obvious as he ran, free from the shackles of injury, towards his adoring fans. However, this time it was a celebration of both his goal and his fitness.
A man described as “top quality” by his manager, shows no intention of giving up on his hopes of leading City to a third top-flight crown in the near future. Kompany and City fans alike will be hoping this is just the start of a long run of appearances, free of injury.
Many Mancunians will have left St Mary’s in a jovial mood on Saturday, but Kompany’s complete defensive performance will have left many wondering whether their side would have experienced the same hardships this season with their captain present.
But, on a more positive note, Manchester City have taken another big step towards securing Champions League football for next season, and Guardiola will be buoyed by the performances of his players – especially his captain.
After Saturday’s excellent display, the footballing world will be eagerly awaiting to see if City’s convincing victory was a sign of Kompany re-igniting his stuttering career, and a demonstration of his enduring ability that may yet lead the Citizens to more silverware.
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