Title race far from over even if Manchester City lose to Liverpool, claims Vincent Kompany

All is not lost for the City defender, even if the Reds win at the Etihad. (AFP)
Updated 03 January 2019
0

Title race far from over even if Manchester City lose to Liverpool, claims Vincent Kompany

  • City skipper certain his side can still win the title even if they suffer defeat in the top-of-the-table clash.
  • Liverpool can go 10 points clear of defending champions with victory.

MANCHESTER: Manchester City’s hopes of retaining the Premier League title will not be over even if they lose to leaders Liverpool on Thursday, according to captain Vincent Kompany.
City are currently in third place with 47 points, seven points behind table-toppers Liverpool, and a defeat would give the Merseyside club a 10-point advantage in the title race.
“It’s easy for everybody to assume that everything rests on this game,” Kompany said.
“I’m probably one of the only ones that disagrees, for the simple fact that we only had three games that we were below standard.”
Liverpool are unbeaten in the league so far while City have lost three games with all defeats coming in December. The champions have lost against Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Leicester City.
“When you are 10 points behind ... if there are not many teams between you and first, it only takes one team to start having a bad month and you will be back in,” he added.
City came from behind to overhaul rivals Manchester United and win the title in 2011-12 season, even though they were eight points behind after 32 games.
“We overcame eight points in six games in the past,” he added. “To be honest, I don’t live with that scenario in my head, of what happens if we lose.
“The moment I have to face the situation, at that moment I’ll see what the options are.”


Fernandinho is last line of defense as City face Watford test

Updated 20 September 2019

Fernandinho is last line of defense as City face Watford test

  • Pep Guardiola’s side are 5 points behind Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Liverpool

MANCHESTER: Fernandinho stepped seamlessly into Manchester City’s backline in midweek to ease Pep Guardiola’s defensive woes but the Premier League champions know their stretched resources will be tested by a physical Watford side on Saturday.

The clubs last met in the FA Cup final in May, with City romping to a 6-0 victory to complete the first-ever domestic treble in English football history.

But just four months later Guardiola, whose side are already five points behind Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Liverpool, is facing a serious headache at the back, with Aymeric Laporte and John Stones out for significant spells.

Frenchman Laporte, described as the best left-sided defender in Europe by Guardiola, is out until at least February after injuring knee ligaments in the recent win over Brighton.

That left Stones, whose start to the season was hampered by injury, as the only specialist center-half left to partner Nicolas Otamendi, a player who has not been an automatic first choice for some time.

England defender Stones, however, suffered a muscle injury in training and reports suggest he could be out for four to five weeks.

City appear to be paying the price for a curious strategy in the transfer market.

Over the past two years, they have shown strong interest in Virgil van Dijk and Harry Maguire, only to balk at paying what turned out to be world record transfer fees for defenders.

Van Dijk went to Liverpool for £75 million ($93m) while Maguire ended up at Manchester United for £80m.

Given the vast wealth of the City’s Abu Dhabi ownership, and the fact they have broken their own club transfer record in each of the past two summers, such caution when it comes to signing center-halves seems curious.

Guardiola also famously spent big on three fullbacks — Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy — in a matter of days in 2017 which makes his, and City’s, refusal to compete with Liverpool and United for center-halves all the more baffling.

The upshot of their approach was that they failed to replace veteran club skipper Vincent Kompany, who returned to Belgium.

City’s refusal to go toe to toe with their rivals means they face Watford, and new manager Quique Sanchez Flores, with only Otamendi as a fit, specialist central defender.

Watford are bottom of the league but come into the match buoyant after recovering from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 against Arsenal.

At least Guardiola has a ready-made solution, with defensive midfielder Fernandinho playing at center-back for the midweek visit to Shakhtar Donetsk, where City won 3-0.

The City manager has long spoken of moving Fernandinho back into that position as his career draws to a close although his hand has been forced by the injuries.

“That’s why he is so important for us,” said Guardiola after the victory in his side’s Champions League opener.

“We don’t have many choices. I think he is the only one I have. Other players can play in that position but Fernandinho is a clever player and so intelligent — an incredible guy.

“He did well the first game he played. Of course he has a lot of experience and personality, and what he says the people follow him in the locker room so it’s important.”

Right-back Walker is another player who could move into the center of defense in an emergency but, with Fernandinho in the veteran stage of his career now at 34, Guardiola is one injury away from a full-blown crisis.