Whilst the attacking part of the game has come in for plenty of criticism of late, particularly in the wake of two successive goalless draws, one area that has been impressive - not just recently but over the course of the season so far - has been the central defensive partnership of Kolo Toure and Vincent Kompany.
I have written at length about the importance of Nigel de Jong and co. in midfield, with their ability to retain possession and stifle creativity and opportunity for the opposition but do not underestimate the effect that Toure and Kompany have had in posting an impressive defensive record to date.
Through eleven games so far this season, Toure and Kompany have been paired together in nine outings, conceding just five goals in the process and perhaps Wolves apart, have conveyed an authority and command not previously seen. It is also worth noting in the two games they have not played together (when Toure was absent through injury) the side conceded five goals (two at Blackpool and three at home to Arsenal); all this without a settled full-back pairing either side of them with Richards, Zabaleta, Boateng, Boyata, Kolarov, Bridge and Lescott all seeing time this season.
Whilst Kompany impressed over the second half of last season, he has improved even further during 2010/11 yet has managed to fly under the radar on the national consciousness, not getting the praise that his play deserves. It is also somewhat ironic that as we head to face Mark Hughes and Fulham this weekend, it took the firing of Hughes before Kompany really played in defence - starting 2009/10 in the 'de Jong' role in midfield. After splashing out so heavily on Toure and Joleon Lescott, perhaps Hughes felt compelled to play his big money signings, particularly in the wake of the sale of Richard Dunne.
For the most part last season, Kolo Toure was much maligned as both a defender and captain. Yet whilst his captaincy could be called into question he was at the top of the statistics in terms of goals conceded whoever he was paired with. Fast forward to this season and his record with Kompany is again solid, but there is no question that as a player he has been more impressive. Shackled somewhat by Mancini with regards his forays over the halfway line, his lapses in concentration and positioning have not been a feature and he has proved to be a better defender than given credit for.
As we head to Fulham this coming weekend, it will be another test for the pairing and you have to think for the side to come away with a much needed three points the basis of a win will sit with Toure and Kompany - hopefully posting yet another clean sheet in the process.