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Without Kompany, Manchester City exposed once again

Manchester City v Liverpool - Premier League

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Raheem Sterling (2nd R) and Manchester City players react after coceding the third goal to Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

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Manchester City goals conceded with Vincent Kompany on the pitch: 1.

Manchester City goals conceded with Vincent Kompany not on the pitch: 12.

Those stats say it all, as City has been a completely different team this season without their captain and center-back Vincent Kompany.

[ RECAP: Manchester City 1-4 Liverpool ]

Kompany missed out on today’s match against Liverpool with a calf injury and City was torn apart, conceding a season-high four goals. City also conceded four in a September loss to Tottenham, another match which Kompany did not play in.

It’s amazing to see the difference in City’s defense when the big Belgian is in the lineup. With Kompany in the starting XI this season, City has conceded just one goal in the Premier League and at times looked like one of the elite teams in all of Europe. Without him, they have been completely exposed, with today the prime example.

[ MORE: Premier League Roundup -- Leicester City sits top of the table ]

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp decided to start the match without a true striker, opting to play with the trio of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana. The decision paid off.

The three were constantly interchanging positions, playing off of each other and completely befuddling the City defense. The central pairing of Eliquiam Mangala and Martin Demichelis was seemingly never in position, leaving gaping holes for Liverpool to run right through.

While you must credit Liverpool for taking advantage of their opportunities, much of the blame has to lie on the back-line. The last time Liverpool scored four goals in a game was nearly a year ago in December, which shows just how poor City was today.

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The key to a strong central defense pairing is communication and positioning, as the two should move together in sync, staying within five to ten yards of each other at all times.

Today, Mangala and Demichelis were often pulled way out of position, chasing the likes of Coutinho and Firmino across the pitch, rather than holding the line and passing on their marks. When Mangala would get drawn too far up the field, there would be acres of space behind him that Liverpool could expose with one pass.

If it weren’t for some strong saves from Joe Hart and a few extremely close offside calls, Liverpool easily could have scored five or six today at the Etihad.

It’s not time to panic, as Manchester City still sits in third place on the table just two points off the leader. But the glaring differences in the side without Vincent Kompany have to be worrying, especially for a team that has aspirations outside of just England. Kompany has battled injuries over the past two seasons, and if he can’t stay healthy, the other center-backs have a lot to figure out.