Pep Guardiola hailed Vincent Kompany as a “real defender” after the Manchester City captain scored the opening goal in the 3-0 defeat of Southampton on Saturday evening.
Kompany made just his eighth start of a very stop-start season but he headed City into the lead, his first goal in almost two years. Guardiola was delighted and said that Kompany can be decisive in both penalty areas, as he showed at St. Mary’s.
“I'm not going to discover the quality of the guy,” Guardiola said. “Manuel [Pellegrini] last season missed him a lot last season and we have missed him a lot [this season].”
City’s defence has held them back at times this season, with no stable partnership and centre-back, but Guardiola spoke very warmly about what Kompany can bring to the team when he is fit. “He's a guy with the quality to win duels one-against-one,” Guardiola said. “With the ball he has the quality to look and move quicker in small space with the passing. And he help us in defensive and offensive set-pieces because he' s a real defender. Vincent is a guy who smells the ball on the set pieces, so he’s so important. Hopefully he can be fit until the end of the season because he's an important player for us.”
Despite Kompany’s struggles, Guardiola believes his captain can still play a crucial role over the final weeks of the season. “There is no doubt about it,” he said. “The problem is when a guy is injured for two or three years, what can we do? In the past two years he has had a lot of problems. Of course this is only his fourth [league] game of the season and that's not too much. With all the players, Gabriel Jesus for example, and Ilkay Gundogan, we would have been stronger. But we are so happy he has come back, and hopefully we can take care of him and he will be fit until the end of the season.”
City’s win moved them back into third place but Guardiola said that third is the best they can hope for, because Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have the top two places secured.
“Tottenham is so strong,” Guardiola said. “Today we saw again how good they are so they are not going to drop points. Our performances away have been amazing but our problem is at home we've dropped a lot of points. Look at Chelsea and Tottenham and how strong they have been at home all season. But United and us have dropped a lot of points at home and we are in this position. When you want to win the Premier League, then at home against Southampton, Middlesbrough etc, we dropped a lot of points. That penalised us for the rest of the season.”
Claude Puel was not happy with Southampton’s performance. “Disappointment but not just about the result but about our play,” he said “We can do better. We didn’t show today a good Southampton with good quality on the pitch. We were nervous at the beginning of the game.”