Paul Pogba scored his first goal for Manchester United in more than a year last night.
It has been a long wait, and he made sure it was a special one. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box from a Bruno Fernandes corner, he took a moment, picked his spot, and curled the ball into the bottom corner.
It was not just the goal which made his performance stand out. Pogba dominated in a number of areas.
Pogba was a class apart in midfield and Villa could not get near him. He touched the ball 91 times.
Victor Lindelof and Marcus Rashford (both 74) were nearest. Villa’s Jack Grealish was their most involved player, with 53 touches.
Pogba did not waste possession, and nor did he play it safe. He completed 90.9 per cent of his passes.
Most impressively he attempted 11 long balls, and completed all 11. Villa’s top performer in this area was John McGinn, with four successful long passes.
His creativity saw him make three key passes. Bruno Fernandes was the only player on the pitch to match him here, also three.
Pogba was also happy to take players on when he had the opportunity. He made three successful dribbles. The only player on the pitch to manage more was Anthony Martial, with four.
The midfielder’s goal was well taken. It was also his only shot at goal. It would be nice to see him have a few more efforts, and after this, he probably will.
Defensively Pogba chipped in too, although a limp second half performance from Aston Villa meant he did not have too much to do. He won one tackle, blocked one shot, and won two aerial duels.
This performance came on the back of an interview Pogba gave to the club website in which he beamed positively about life at Old Trafford.
Rarely in his four years at the club since he re-signed has he seemed happier, or more excited about the team he is playing in.
Pogba just wants to win, and this United side look like giving him a chance to do so again. He is a key part of it.
United are now unbeaten in 17 games in all competitions, and have won four league matches in a row. Win four more league games, and Champions League qualification will be sealed.
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