Why Vincent Kompany's Absence Is Hurting Manchester City on the Road

Tim OscroftContributor INovember 21, 2013

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 15:  Vincent Kompany of Belgium looks on prior to the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group A match between Belgium and Wales at King Baudouin Stadium on October 15, 2013 in Brussels, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Vincent Kompany's absences for Manchester City have begun to hurt, and it's away from Etihad Stadium where the lack of his considerable presence could hole their title challenge below the waterline.

It does not necessarily follow that having Kompany in the side makes all the differencethe big Belgian's one awayday this term was at Aston Villa, and that was one of the Blues' four defeats on the road.

A ball over the top bisected the City defence, Kompany included, allowing Andreas Weimann to nip in and poke the ball beyond Joe Hart.

But in general, Kompany being there should spell one word, namely "organisation." That's what City will need, especially when not on their own turf. Home sides throughout the Premier League will fancy their chances when facing Manuel Pellegrini's men given their form this season, it's a cumulative thing and at the moment the momentum is not with City off their own patch.

A prolonged injury to Martin Demichelis that stopped the Argentine stepping in for Kompany has hampered Pellegrini. By the time the well-coiffed summer signing from Atletico Madrid was fit to play, the evidence that City were vulnerable without their captain was there for all to see.

But Pellegrini does not help by playing tinker at the back, shuffling Matija Nastasic, Joleon Lescott, Javi Garcia and even Dedryck Boyata (in the Capital One Cup) rather than going for a settled pairing in Kompany's absence. 

The repeated return to Garcia in central defence has looked increasingly shaky, with the Spain international being shown up as a midfielder playing out of his natural position. Nastasic looks a fraction of the talented player he is when without Kompany, and Lescott, an unsung hero a couple of years ago, now plays like someone who has been on the sidelines through no fault of his own in recent times. 

Javi Garcia and Matija Nastasic on a muddy pitch in Hong Kong in pre-season
Javi Garcia and Matija Nastasic on a muddy pitch in Hong Kong in pre-seasonVictor Fraile/Getty Images

Would Joe Hart's bloopers at Cardiff and Chelsea have happened if Kompany had played? We'll never know, but the pair had gained an understanding over the last five years. If the England goalkeeper returns for his club, and that's a big "if" as it stands, he'll be keen to hook up with his captain given the success they had in the team's spine.

Kompany at his best—seen in the title-winning season—is the organiser, the shouter (if not in a belligerent, up and at them way), the fulcrum of the City back four. Even approaching his best will do for the Blues on the road—after all, their home form has been excellent.

But even in an open-looking title race, City's away form if it carries on like this will be a huge problem but if Kompany comes back in good shape and form then their immense attacking talents could build on their defence to maintain a sustained tilt at the Premier League crown.