Though he didn’t manage a goal or assist, Pogba’s disciplined, hard-working performance in a midfield shorn of Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera, who went off in the first half with an injury, went a long way to ensuring a patchwork United side didn’t crumble against the Premier League leaders.
Here’s a closer look at his performance.
Goals – 0
Shots – 2
Shots on target -1
Passing accuracy – 68%
Tackles – 2
Tackle success rate – 100%
Interceptions – 3
Though he ended the game with no goals or assists, this may have been Pogba’s most significant performances in a United shirt. In the absence of Nemanja Matic and then Herrera after the latter’s injury, the Frenchman took command of midfield.
He set the tone for United’s resilient display, covering every inch of ground much like Herrera does to make sure United’s makeshift side were never caught out.
Pogba’s willingness to do defensive work has been questioned before. This performance went a long way to answering those criticisms.
Perhaps Pogba has been listening to calls that Herrera is the ideal captain of United’s future, and decided to make his own case for the armband. On Sunday Pogba led by example, marshalling younger colleagues Andreas Pereira and Scott McTominay to lead an effort full of discipline and poise.
It helps, when trying to show leadership, that Pogba was willing to put in the same shift that was being asked of everyone else. His work rate helped Luke Shaw deal with the threat of Mohamed Salah, and made sure United were never overrun in midfield despite being under-strength.
So impressed with Pogba in that second half. He became the experienced midfielder out there and set a great example to Pereira and McTominay. Sliding challenges, winning headers and putting in a shift back there. He showed the defensive side of his game brilliantly.— The Man Utd Way (@TheManUtdWay) February 24, 2019
Perhaps because of his defensive efforts, Pogba’s attacking play was below its usual standard – though he still looked like United’s biggest threat. But his passing was inaccurate and he was not as effective in sparking any United counter-attacks as he would have liked.
Paul Pogba putting in his best ever defensive performance for United today. #mufc— United Xtra (@utdxtra) February 24, 2019
In recent weeks Pogba has been drawing raving reviews for the way he’s been racking up the goals and assists. Sunday was a different performance that will earn even more praise.
Jose Mourinho might be forgiven for wondering where this Pogba was he needed him, but no matter. Against Liverpool the Frenchman showed just how much he has matured since the Portuguese manager was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
That Pogba has a performance like this in his locker is a good omen for United’s future.
RATING – 8/10
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