Scott McTominay returned to the starting line-up for Manchester United’s 2-1 win against West Ham which meant Paul Pogba was pushed further forward.
The Scot who was making his first appearance since recovering from groin surgery partnered Fred in the heart of United’s midfield.
Pogba had played the last two Premier League matches in central midfield alongside either Fred or Nemanja Matic.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer unleashed the Frenchman further forward which gave him greater licence to influence the game.
Paul Pogba dribbles his way out of trouble
Pogba was playing off the left-hand side and closer to Bruno Fernandes at the London Stadium.
The 28-year-old came into the central areas to get on the ball and outnumber West Ham in the midfield.
But the former Juventus man was coming up against Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek, two powerful midfielders who were looking to get stuck into United.
After getting an early clattering from his French compatriot and good friend Kurt Zouma, Pogba dusted himself off and kept looking to get on the ball.
But in a season where his assists tally stands out as the best in the league currently, it was the French international’s ability to get out of tight spaces with his quick feet that shone against West Ham.
Time and time again when Pogba looked like he was going to get crowded out or dispossessed he skipped past the opposition.
Competing with the best dribbler in the league
Pogba completed eight of his nine attempted dribbles (SofaScore) against West Ham.
Only Wolves’ speed demon Adama Traore could better Pogba’s dribbling tally from the fifth Premier League gameweek.
The Spanish international completed 11 of his 12 attempted dribbles against Brentford, but unlike Pogba, Traore’s side lost at the weekend.
Pogba has so many different ways of hurting teams and his ability to glide past players and commit defenders allows him to then find the pass to punish teams.
The return of the ‘McFred’ partnership could see Pogba back on the inside left position which means he’s closer to Fernandes, but he can also link up to good effect with Cristiano Ronaldo and Luke Shaw.
Pogba’s passing range is one of the best in European football, but his dribbling skills are maybe a little undervalued and underappreciated, but it’s yet another way that United’s number six can hurt teams.
Playing further forward with greater freedom to express himself could see him potentially oust Traore in a Premier League gameweek for the number of dribbles completed.
If he does then that can only mean good things for Manchester United.
- Edinson Cavani sends one word message to Manchester United fans
- Manchester United and Atalanta are polar opposites in one specific category
- Brandon Williams may have to be patient to regain Norwich starting spot
- Lack of Pogba to Ronaldo connection is biggest attacking disappointment
- How Manchester United could line-up v Atalanta in 3-5-2 formation