Kompany ready for Battle Royale

The two Manchester clubs are now level at the top of the table

after leaders City were held to a goalless draw at West Brom and

United thrashed Wigan. City’s goal difference is still five better

but even that is a diminished figure after successive 5-0 wins from

the champions. The warnings from Old Trafford are clear – but

Kompany is all the more excited about a title race he expects to be

tight right to the end. The Belgium defender said: “We knew it

would be close, there was no doubt that would be the case. “We just

need to pick up the points we should pick up. “It is going to be an

interesting second half to the season. “To be honest, I wouldn’t

have liked anyone else to be battling for the title with. “It is

United – a good way to battle for the title. “Hopefully it would

give a special flavour to that trophy if we could bring it home.”

City lacked their usual bite at The Hawthorns as, after scoring 53

goals in their first 17 games, they were shut out for the first

time this season. Yet they still had a number of chances to take a

grip on the game and Kompany was not concerned about the

performance. The 25-year-old said: “I thought we had a decent game.

“I have seen far worse performances coming to places like this. “I

think we were just unlucky we didn’t score that goal.” Mario

Balotelli went closest for City when he hit the bar from long range

early in the second half. The Italian earlier had a goal disallowed

for offside and saw a free-kick into the wall bobble wide. David

Silva also spurned two good opportunities as he scooped over from

in front of goal in the first half and later shot at Ben Foster.

West Brom were starved of possession at times but they were well

organised in defence and made the most of the ball when they had

it. Captain Chris Brunt fired wide early on and Paul Scharner

tested Joe Hart before Shane Long headed wide from six yards and

Jerome Thomas hit the post. Kompany said: “Their defending was

brilliant as well and you have got to give credit to them. “You

always encounter teams like this during a season, who on a good day

can bring a lot of trouble to you. “I am not bitter about it.

Credit is due where credit is due and we had chances.” The result

was an undoubted setback for ambitious City ahead of a tough

January which begins with a trip to Sunderland on New Year’s Day

and a clash with Liverpool two days later. They could even slip to

second before their next game as United are back in action first.

West Brom head coach Roy Hodgson also believes their fight with Sir

Alex Ferguson’s men will be tight. Hodgson said: “I think it will

be tough right through to the end. “In some ways the riches are on

the blue side and the experience and quality and talent is equally

as good on the red side. “Alex has been unlucky with injuries and I

don’t think he can afford many more, while City could virtually put

out two Premier League teams. “But the impressive thing about

Manchester United is they had just put five past Fulham and now

they have done it again. “They are flying. The exciting thing for

people like me is it will be a fascinating duel. “The rest are

slipping a bit already and it is looking like United or City even

at this early stage.” Hodgson was impressed with the discipline and

workrate of his players, which built on an impressive win at

Newcastle. One to catch the eye was right-back Billy Jones, who

came on for the injured Steven Reid at Newcastle and retained his

place. Hodgson said of the summer signing from Preston: “I thought

Billy was very good. “He must be really pleased to have had two

such stern tests at the start of his time with the club. “If he can

do well in those two games he should do well in the others.”