Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi believes that Vicent Kompany's return to form could be a crucial "addition" for his side ahead of the Premier League title chase after the Belgium international was named man of the match following the Capital One Cup final victory over Liverpool. The Argentine defender points out that the Reds failed to muster a shot on target until Philippe Coutinho's equaliser in normal time and claimed victory will City a boost in their bid to fight to add a further two trophies.
Manuel Pellegrini has struggled to cope with the long-term absence of Kompany from the centre of the defence during the first part of the season. City have conceded 28 goals in 26 Premier League games, with Kompany's leadership missing from heavy 4-1 defeats against Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool earlier in the campaign and the recent shock loss to Leicester City.
Kompany returned to action during the defeat to Spurs earlier this month before proving his importance to the team in the mid-week Champions League over Dynamov Kiev and the Capital One Cup victory, via a penalty shoot-out, over Liverpool, with an outstanding display. His partnership with Otamendi helped prevent Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino test goalkeeper Willy Caballero until late on.
Otamendi is now hopeful Kompany remains fit until the end of the season and believes he could play a massive part to help City to add more silverware during the final months of the Pellegrini era. "We know what Vincent brings us. He has recovered in the best way. He is a leader in the field. It is more than clear that he is going to be a very important addition after so long on the sidelines," Otamendi told IBTimes UK after the win over Liverpool.
"But we must also praise the other centre-backs of the team who also helped to reach the Capital One Cup final (during Kompany's absence). We didn't concede a single chance to Liverpool in 83 minutes and hopefully we will continue to do the same in the coming games. I'm happy to have won my first title in England. I think it would have been unfair not clinching the tile because we had many chances to score more goals."
City has plenty of opportunities to kill the game off before Coutinho's equaliser took the game into extra time. Raheem Sterling missed a couple of easy opportunities and forced Caballero into becoming the the hero of the final, making a brilliant extra-time save from Divock Origi before saving three penalty from Lucas, Coutinho and Adam Lallana.
Otamendi was particular happy for his international compatriot following a week when the 'keeper came under huge scrutiny due to a shaky performance in the FA Cup 5-1 defeat to Chelsea. "I am very happy for him and I have told to him just after the game," he added. "He is a great teammate. He gives his best in every training session. The goalkeeper position is the most difficult but against Liverpool he was at his very best."
City's campaign threatened to collapse after the club announced that Pep Guardiola will take over Pellegrini next campaign. The Mancunians suffered two damaging defeats to Leicester and Tottenham in the Premier League and were knocked out by Chelsea from the FA Cup.
Many questioned the the timing of the announcement but Otamendi says that the last two crucial victories against Dynamo and Liverpool prove the players are just focus on finishing the campaign in the best possible way. In this sense he welcomed Arsenal defeat to Manchester United on Sunday (28 February) as it gives City renewed hope in their bid to win the Premier League title.
"For football reasons there are times when things do not go in the best way but as a player we focus in the present and do not think about the future. Guardiola will come next season but we think on a day to day because we are still alive in two more competitions," he said.
"We must be happy because in the Premier League we are still up there and in the Champions League we have a good advantage ahead of the second leg, although is closed yet. We will try to fight until the end foe everything in the last part of the season. The negative results of our rivals (like Arsenal) are always important but are useless if we do not win next Wednesday against Liverpool."