They may have missed the shot at the Premier League title, but Manchester City still have a lot to play for. Sitting in fourth position in the table, Pep Guardiola’s team is being chased by local rivals Manchester United and Liverpool in the race for Champions League spots.
An away trip to Southampton is always a tricky fixture in the Premier League and the Saints, yet again, proved to be a tenacious outfit on Saturday. The Southampton defence kept Guardiola's talented attackers at bay, with goalkeeper Fraser Forster chipping in with crucial saves – one coming from him snatching at the ball from Leroy Sane’s feet. It would take a stronger man to step in for City to break the deadlock. They found him in Vincent Kompany.
In his second start in 10 days for the club, the towering Belgian headed home the first goal that would open the floodgates to City’s 3-0 away romp at St. Mary’s.
It was a typical goal for the defender, outmuscling his marker and getting above him to powerfully drive his header home. For City, it was the first of the match. For Kompany, it was his first Premier League goal in 608 days.
City’s talismanic captain has been plagued by injuries for the last two seasons, allowing him only brief appearances in between, but never in for the long haul. Steadily word was leaked that the club’s management were looking into the prospect of selling the 30-year-old – the likes of West Ham United and Everton have reportedly been monitoring developments on that front.
But on the night the Citizens needed inspiration to break a resolute Southampton defence, it was their ‘Captain Fantastic’ who provided it. But not only that, he was telling on the defensive front as well, making three necessary clearances and one block to quell out the attacks from the hosts.
A full 90 minutes’ worth of time on the pitch was full of promise for the Belgian, especially since his injury woes have been adding fuel to the idea that his days at the club are numbered.
But on the night, his performance was praised by Guardiola, who faced the inevitable question about Kompany’s possible transfer away from the club. The Spaniard replied in favour of his captain though, claiming that provided Kompany can stay fit, there is a long-term future for the Belgian at the club.
His performance against the Saints was a testimony to his class and skill and his propensity to bail the team out whenever required.