KOMPANY’S LATEST SETBACK
VINCENT KOMPANY is one of the many for whom the end of 2016 cannot come soon enough. The Manchester City captain had already spent 37 weeks of the year out with a variety of injuries and now there is a fresh one to battle. His manager, Pep Guardiola, revealed that Kompany picked up a knee ligament injury during Saturday’s 2-1 win at Crystal Palace and will be out for several more weeks. Kompany is being treated by Ramon Cugat, the Barcelona-based doctor whose team treated him for another knee injury after he broke down after 10 minutes of the Champions League semifinal with Real Madrid. This is Kompany’s 35th separate injury since he came to Manchester City in 2008 and, given that Guardiola had serious doubts about his long-term prospects when he arrived at the Etihad Stadium, he is likely to step up the search for a replacement in the January transfer window. Thus far Kompany’s involvement in City’s Premier League campaign has been 116 minutes of football stretched over three matches. For a man who can be counted one of Manchester City’s great players, his career appears to be closing amid pain and frustration. “He is sad about it, of course,” said Guardiola of Kompany. “I am sad. He is a good chap and it is a long time that he doesn’t play. He is in the best hands and Dr Cugat will make the treatment as soon as possible. I am told it is not a serious knee ligament injury. A serious knee ligament injury would be six months. This is weeks.” SPURS STILL INEXPERIENCED When Mauricio Pochettino looked back on Spurs’ collapse at the end of last season, he said that problem was in their heads, and that they needed to improve their mentality.
This Champions League campaign has felt like a vindication, of sorts. Spurs have looked tactically naive and careless in their four games against Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco, good sides but not in the European elite.
This campaign has been a hard reminder that this Spurs team is still a work in progress, with none of the exposure its domestic rivals have to the top end of European competition. FULLBACKS DOMINATE Mauricio Pochettino has spent the last few games trying to find a new tactical balance. He played a new narrow 4-3-2-1, hoping to get as much support to Harry Kane as possible. The problem was that it was so narrow, with Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli tucked in, that the flanks were left free to Monaco.
And French fullbacks Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy destroyed Spurs down the sides.
Kieran Trippier is not first choice, Danny Rose is, but neither Spurs fullback had the protection to stop his Monaco counterpart. KANE NEEDS MORE HELP In Spurs’ last three games, Arsenal, West Ham and Monaco, they have scored five goals, which is good. But four of those came from Harry Kane, and three of them were penalties.
Dele Alli is not playing well, neither is Christian Eriksen, while Erik Lamela is injured. Vincent Janssen is still settling in and, ultimately, Spurs simply do not have the attacking players to help Kane out. ALDERWEIRELD A BIG ABSENCE Spurs do not have a big squad and the problem is that they have never had a full side fit all season. Before Harry Kane returned, they lost Toby Alderweireld, their leader at the other end of the pitch.
This game was an example of how much they miss him, as Eric Dier and Kevin Wimmer were pulled all over the place. Spurs painfully missed Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, and every time Monaco attacked they could
Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy (right) runs for the ball during their UEFA Champions League group E against Tottenham yesterday. –