If someone had told you a couple of months ago that Manchester United would be level on points at the top of the Premier League with Paul Pogba running the show, you might have questioned their sanity.
Just under 12 weeks ago, United were humiliated by Tottenham and Pogba was struggling for game time. Indeed, there were some who called for the midfielder never to play for the club again after the badly timed comments from his agent, Mino Raiola, who claimed his client is unhappy and wants away from Old Trafford.
It is, therefore, hard to believe that this Manchester United, the same team that started the season so badly and with one of their star players angling for an exit, is starting to show they might just be capable of mounting a title challenge.
When Pogba pledged to give 100 per cent following those transfer comments, many could have been forgiven for thinking it was mere lip service. But, to be fair to the France international, he has upped his performances in the past month and, based on his display against Aston Villa, he is going to be key if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are to seriously challenge Liverpool.
“We’re happy with his contribution,” Solskjaer said after the 2-1 win against Aston Villa. “It’s important that we get Paul on the ball whether low in the pitch or higher between the lines. He started off out wide defending but we wanted him to make runs in behind and get on the ball.
“His physical presence is important for us. They are one of the strongest physical sides in the league and we needed players to match them. I was delighted with his performance.”
Burnley before a pivotal clash against Liverpool at Anfield.
While Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Anthony Martial got the plaudits for United’s opening goal, Pogba also deserves recognition for a sublime piece of control and flick that started the move. There aren’t many, if any, other players within that squad that have that ability in their locker.