EPL

Pogba getting better and better - Solskjaer impressed by Man Utd midfielder

By Sports Desk January 01, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised Paul Pogba after the midfielder helped overcome Aston Villa - a result that moves Manchester United level on points with Liverpool at the top of the table.

United started 2021 as they ended the previous year - with a hard-fought home victory - as they defeated Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford, in the process extending their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 10 games.

Marcus Rashford had struck in added time to see off Wolves on December 29, and while they did not leave it so late this time, the Red Devils were still made to work hard.

Solskjaer felt Pogba's ability on the ball helped repel a physical Villa team, the France international impressing again in the United midfield as he continues to improve after recovering from coronavirus.

"He's getting better and better, fitter and fitter. I think he played well today," Solskjaer said to Sky Sports about Pogba, who attempted more passes and more passes in the opposing team's half than any other home player.

"They are a physical side, there were loads of challenges, one against one situations. Paul's one of these boys that can hold players off, get hold of it for us.

"But, not just Paul, we were too keen to play the killer pass. We knew they were going to drop off, then there are other spaces in behind we should have used."

Pogba had the most number of touches for United (69), while also winning 52.6 per cent of his 19 total duels.

The 27-year-old - whose long-term future at the club remains unclear - was fouled twice during the game, one of those occasions leading to the penalty that Bruno Fernandes converted in the second half, seeing the hosts reclaim the lead.

Anthony Martial had put them ahead earlier in the contest, scoring just his second league goal of a campaign disrupted by both injuries and a three-game suspension.

Solskjaer hopes the French forward - who has now scored on all seven days of the week in the Premier League - can build on his performance.

"He's had chances all season, maybe his confidence has had a bit of a knock earlier with the sending off, and some niggles he's had.

"Now he's firing, getting better and better."

United are back in action on Wednesday, hosting neighbours Manchester City in the last four of the EFL Cup. 

They are next on duty in the league on January 12, travelling to take on Burnley five days before a huge trip to defending champions Liverpool.

Related items

  • Arteta lauds Jesus for raising standards at Arsenal after Brazilian's brace downs Leicester Arteta lauds Jesus for raising standards at Arsenal after Brazilian's brace downs Leicester

    Mikel Arteta hailed Gabriel Jesus for raising standards at Arsenal after the Brazilian scored two goals and registered two assists in a thrilling win over Leicester City.

    Arsenal made it two wins from two Premier League matches with a 4-2 victory over the Foxes at Emirates Stadium on Saturday as Jesus recorded his first competitive goals since arriving from Manchester City for £45million in July.  

    In doing so, Jesus became the first player to score more than once on his home Premier League debut for the Gunners, while the 25-year-old is also the first Arsenal player to double up for goals and assists in a league game since Theo Walcott against Newcastle United in December 2012 (three goals and two assists).

    The signing of Jesus, a four-time Premier League champion, was lauded as a coup for a side that missed out on Champions League football last term, and Arteta has been delighted by his strong start.

    "I think it lifts the standards with the way that he's training every day and the way that he's talking," said the Arsenal boss.

    "I think it's very natural, but at the same time it's pretty impressive to do it that quickly, but then we are asking other players to score goals as well. 

    "If you want to be at the top then we're going to have to score a lot of goals and we cannot rely on two or three players.

    "We know what Gabby can do. He scored two and assisted two and he's still disappointed in the dressing room because he said he could have scored four. 

    "That's the standard, that's the mentality that if you want to go to a different level, you need that mentality. 

    "I wouldn't like to play against him. I have never been a defender, but I can imagine that they don't enjoy it. He's so mobile, so intuitive and is always sharp and proactive to play in any moment and any phase of the game and he's a real threat."

    Jesus' opener made him the 12th Brazilian player to score for Arsenal in the Premier League, the most of any club in the competition's history.

    The forward only made 21 Premier League starts during his final season with City, but has assumed a central role since heading to the Emirates.

    And Arteta recognises the importance of managing his workload, adding: "We are going to demand him to start a lot of games, so we have to manage that load and the way that we train is different.

    "We have to be on top of that and hopefully we are."

  • South Africa 23-35 New Zealand: Battling All Blacks stop the rot to give under-fire Foster much-needed win South Africa 23-35 New Zealand: Battling All Blacks stop the rot to give under-fire Foster much-needed win

    Ian Foster may have been given a lifeline at Ellis Park as New Zealand stopped the rot with a thrilling 35-23 Rugby Championship win over South Africa.

    All Blacks head coach Foster has faced huge pressure after a dismal run of five defeats in six Tests, but his side appear to be behind him on the evidence of their impressive performance in Johannesburg on Saturday.

    They opened up a 15-point lead following tries from captain Sam Cane and Samisoni Taukei'aho, but the world champions fought back to take the lead with 12 minutes to go courtesy of scores from Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi, as well as 15 points from the trusty boot of Handre Pollard.

    New Zealand were also a man down with Beauden Barrett in the sin bin, but late tries from David Havili and Scott Barrett stunned the Springboks to deliver a vital victory.

    Richie Mo'unga scored 15 points from the tee as the holders secured a battling victory for the under-fire Foster.

    South Africa lost Damian Willemse to the sin bin for a ruck infringement early on and Jesse Kriel was unable to return after a head injury assessment, but they prevented New Zealand from scoring when they were a man down.

    A scrappy Test burst into life after Mo'unga's 25th-minute penalty, as Cane finished in the corner following an incisive break from Caleb Clarke and Taukei'aho crashed over for a try that Mo'unga converted brilliantly.

    The Springboks quickly reduced the arrears when Am showed power and pace to round off a slick move on the right wing and Pollard cut the gap to five points with a mammoth penalty on the stroke of half-time.

    Mo'unga was on target again after Pollard's second successful penalty early in the second half and the All Blacks fly-half put his side eight points up when he sent another kick between the posts after Mapimpi had a try disallowed for obstruction.

    Mapimpi was not to be denied moments later, though, taking a brilliant pass from Willemse and touching down for a score that Pollard expertly converted from the left touchline.

    Pollard booted the Springboks into the lead for the first time with 12 minutes to go after replacement Beauden Barrett was yellow-carded for obstructing Jaden Hendrikse.

    New Zealand dug deep to win it despite being a man down. with Havili going over in the corner following a brilliant break started by Rieko Ioane and Scott Barrett putting the icing on the cake from close range - with Mo'unga adding the extras for both scores.

  • Haaland will adapt to Premier League life, says Man City's De Bruyne Haaland will adapt to Premier League life, says Man City's De Bruyne

    Kevin De Bruyne feels Erling Haaland must continue to adapt to the Premier League with Manchester City, while hailing the forward's efforts against Bournemouth on Saturday.

    The Norway international teed up an opening assist for Ilkay Gundogan in a 4-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium, but otherwise struggled to influence proceedings.

    Even as De Bruyne and Phil Foden added further goals, Haaland cut a peripheral figure for the hosts, and ultimately had just eight touches throughout the entire match.

    De Bruyne still feels that the Leeds-born attacker is bedding into life in a different league, however, pointing to the differences between the English top flight and the Bundesliga, where Haaland has arrived from.

    "He played really well," the Belgian said. "Obviously, it's so tight. I don't think in Germany, he played a lot of games where teams were so defensively narrow, so it is something he will have to adapt to.

    "With Gundogan, he finds him perfectly, and he set us up for the win. If he plays that way, he will be good."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.