Analysing Paul Pogba's performance for Manchester United against Leicester City
It was a mixed first season back at Manchester United for Paul Pogba, but he has started the new campaign in great form and was central to the team’s win over Leicester City this weekend. BT Sport gave him man-of-the-match, which underlines the impact he had on the game. The Frenchman is beginning to build up a great rapport with Nemanja Matic in central midfield. Jose Mourinho knew that he had to find the right partner for his star midfielder if he was to get the best out of him and the new signing from Chelsea seems to be the perfect fit.
Everything that United do in attack goes through Pogba, as he holds the key to unlocking back fours and he is excellent at dictating the tempo in central areas. He had 132 touches of the ball on Saturday, which was considerably more than any other player on the pitch. Last season, he was often too deep to affect the game, but the signing of Matic has addressed that. The 24-year-old now operates in more advanced areas and the team are more potent as a result.
The midfielder now looks much more confident in possession and his pass success rate shows that. He completed 88% of his passes and that is impressive considering the area of the pitch that he was operating in. It is a little surprising that he made only one key pass and that doesn’t represent the impact that he had in the final third. Often, he would play the pass to create a promising opportunity, but as it wasn’t the final pass of an attack, it won’t be shown as a key pass.
There are several dangerous parts of the Frenchman’s game, including his ability to carry the ball and move his team up the pitch in the transition phase. He completed four dribbles during the match on Saturday and it is clear opposition teams are wary of what he can do when running with the ball. Pogba is excellent at dropping his shoulder before gliding past a defender and it was very effective against Leicester.
His performance wasn’t perfect, as he was dispossessed on seven occasions. This was more than any other player during the match. He will suggest he has the ball more, therefore he will be dispossessed more often. However, he can take needless risks at times and he needs to become better at protecting possession. Another minor problem was his decision making in the final third, as he did waste a couple of promising positions by shooting from range. This shows his confidence, but he needs to reign it in sometimes.
Manchester United will be delighted with their first few weeks of the season and Pogba’s form has helped them achieve that. There is no doubting that is now the most important player for this side. His ability is starting to shine through and he is emerging as one of the league’s best players. If he continues to influence matches with regularity, United can challenge for major honours at home and abroad.