Manchester City have a very deep squad. They also have a manager eager to prove himself in England. They have one of the most promising strikers in Europe who could become a Premier League superstar this season, and they also have some very good full-backs who can lead them to glory.
All of that might be worth nothing because of one major factor: the health of Vincent Kompany.
The City captain has been a rock in defense since joining the club in 2008, but the last few years have been rough. Since January of 2013, Kompany has suffed 18 injuries that completely destroyed his muscles. It seemed like the arrival of Pep Guardiola did nothing to solve Vinny’s injury problems, but then something changed.
Starting with the FA Cup semifinal against Arsenal on April 23rd, Kompany played every minute of the final 12 games of the season. He also looked sensational while doing it, and was able to play for Belgium in international duty without any trouble. He remained healthy throughout preseason as well, and is set to start and captain the side on Saturday’s Premier League opener against Brighton & Hove Albion.
The last few months have been incredibly encouraging, and Guardiola is so convinced that Kompany will remain healthy that he hasn’t pursued a center-back this summer. He could still get a backup defender before Deadline Day, but Pep is certain that his captain will be part of the team during the whole season.
And if that’s the case, City’s season has a giant chance of being a very successful one. Kompany still is one of the top central defenders in Europe, and he’s not only amazing on his own. He makes those around him better, which we clearly saw happen with Nicolas Otamendi in the final 12 games of the season. The only time John Stones has looked good in City colors has been with Kompany alongside him, which definitely is not a coincidence.
Kompany’s ability to make timely interceptions and win duels in the box gives City a much stronger chance to keep clean sheets and concede very few goals throughout the season. With a great goalkeeper behind him in Éderson, Kompany knows he won’t need to be the hero all the time and can preserve his body without risking injuries on silly challenges.
Guardiola is also a rotation coach, which means he will rest Kompany in smaller league and cup matches to preserve him for key Premier League and Champions League fixtures. Kompany needs to play at least 80% of City’s league games and every European Cup match to give them a chance to win both competitions. It’s that simple.
John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi need Kompany playing with them, and we’ll see all three together quite a few times this season as Pep has used a back three in preseason and it gave him some great results and performances.
Vincent Kompany’s fitness became a laughing stock for the last three years, but he’s been able to stay healthy for the last four months. That’s a long time, and Kompany has looked like the Kompany that led City’s defense all the way to two Premier League titles. If he stays healthy, a third Premier League title is a big possibility.
And you know what the best news is? It is not as a big of an “IF” as it used to be.