This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Amidst all the transfer talk surrounding the World Cup winner’s future at Manchester United, Paul Pogba delivered a statement-making performance against Chelsea in the first game of the Premier League season.
The 26-year-old picked up two assists, and was at his powerful best in the middle of the park against Frank Lampard’s side. For someone whose name has been in the headlines about a potential exit from Old Trafford, Pogba certainly silenced some of the doubters.
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Against Wolves, all the post-match talk and anger has understandably centred around the Frenchman’s involvement in United’s penalty fiasco. Footage appeared to show him and Marcus Rashford in discussion over who would step up and take the spot-kick, and in the end, Pogba’s decision to do so ultimately cost the Red Devils a hard-fought win.
But, looking beyond that debacle, the former Juventus man was arguably one of United’s more impressive performers on the night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team selection for the clash was certainly brave and adventurous. Going away from home to a side that inflicted two defeats on them last season, he set up with just two natural midfielders and four attack-minded players.
It meant Pogba and Scott McTominay had the unenviable task of having to stifle Wolves’ midfield three of Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves and Leander Dendoncker. But in a particularly dominant first-half performance, United’s duo successfully forced the opposition back and looked generally comfortable with proceedings.
Indeed, Pogba set the tempo for his side with a game-high 95 passes, and registered an impressive 84.2% pass accuracy. What was even more impressive was the 6 foot 3 star’s willingness to get United moving forward, and his 12 accurate long balls were thanks to his intuition in knowing Wolves were at their most vulnerable in transition.
One sublime pass in particular saw Pogba’s diagonal set Rashford away on the break, and almost led to a goal for Anthony Martial.
The indoor football skills in the video below have to be seen to be believed…
The narrative will no doubt centre around how the midfield star may have broken team protocol, or showed a lack of respect to his teammates and the club by taking the penalty. But from an objective point of view, taking the anger away, the Frenchman produced a fine performance in a testing game.