EPL

In-demand Pogba praises Man Utd title rivals: Premier League obviously the best in the world

By Sports Desk January 15, 2021

Paul Pogba feels the Premier League is clearly the best in the world as he outlined the scale of the challenge facing Manchester United in the title race.

The World Cup winner is relishing United sitting top of the table after 17 games.

Pogba's winner against Burnley on Tuesday put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team top of the standings at this stage of campaign for the first time since Alex Ferguson's last season.

The midfielder explained fighting for the biggest trophies is why he returned to the club from Juventus in 2016.

While his agent Mino Raiola has said Pogba wants to leave United, he believes the division his current club play in is tougher than those he would be in if he joined reported suitors Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid.

"That's why I came here," Pogba said to Sky Sports about United's return to the top of the league ahead of Sunday's crucial away game with Liverpool.

"That's why I came back here. It was to go and win.

"Obviously when you come you want to win straight away. But things happen. You try to build, and sometimes things happen you didn't expect, but it's for a good reason. 

"Maybe this year we can win it, who knows? It made us improve, know about ourselves, get more experience, so everything happened for a reason.

"In my head you always want to win the first year, second year, the third year, but it's not as easy as it seems.

"You have teams that have been great as well, our neighbours [Manchester City] have been great.

"Everyone is building teams, buying top players, so obviously this league is the best league in the world, and you know it's not going to be easy."

Pogba form key to United revival

After a difficult start to the season, Pogba's return to form has been important to a United side heavily reliant on the production of Bruno Fernandes.

Pogba previously conceded he was struggling with his recovery from coronavirus and a long-term injury absence in the early stages of the season.

Opta data highlights his level of improvement, which started with the spectacular goal in a comeback win over West Ham on December 5, a performance that came just before Raiola's remarks caused fervent transfer speculation.

From that West Ham game, Pogba has two goals and nine created chances in seven appearances and six starts.

He is averaging 65 passes and 55 completed passes per 90 minutes during that period, second only to Nemanja Matic for United, while his 7.7 recoveries per game ranks fourth among outfield players.

After being in and out the team earlier in the campaign, Pogba has played 576 minutes in the Premier League in that time – behind only captain Harry Maguire (720), Marcus Rashford (646), Fernandes (641) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (630).

Prior to that West Ham game, Pogba started just four times and made seven Premier League appearances.

He did not have a goal or an assist in that period and registered just two key passes. United won three, drew one and lost three of those first seven Premier League outings.

Starting with the West Ham match, the seven Pogba has played have produced five wins, two draws and no defeats.

Related items

  • Man Utd 'destroyed' by Brentford in first half and only deserved a draw - Frank Man Utd 'destroyed' by Brentford in first half and only deserved a draw - Frank

    Manchester United were "destroyed" in the first half of their 3-1 win over Brentford, with Thomas Frank claiming they only deserved a draw at most. 

    United failed to register a single shot on target in the opening period in west London on Wednesday, while David de Gea was forced into three saves from Mathias Jensen and Ethan Pinnock. 

    After Cristiano Ronaldo sent a header against the crossbar at the start of the second half, Anthony Elanga put the Red Devils ahead with their first shot on target. 

    Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford put United out of sight and secured a 300th Premier League away victory for the club, with Ivan Toney netting a late consolation for Brentford. 

    "Unbelievably proud of my team. I think we are the smallest club in the Premier League, Manchester United are probably the biggest. The way we played in the first half, I think we destroyed them," Frank told BT Sport. 

    "We should have been up at least 2-0, they didn't have a sniff, nothing. We created five, six chances and three huge chances. Man United deserved a maximum of a draw. I think they are unbelievably lucky. 

    "Of course you need to take your chances, I know all that c**p. But the performance, I'm proud of that. They changed the system against little Brentford. I'm so, so proud of my team. 

    "[It was] one of those nights, it's football. Fair play to De Gea, a very good performance. If we get those chances again one will go in the back of the net. 

    "Our intensity killed them, we showed that in the first half. We pressed them, when we had to we defended low, we won the second balls, we played behind and ran behind them. We played the Brentford way in the first half. 

    "The game opened up. They hadn't had a chance before their goal. Of course, I know that's why they pay 72 million [pounds] for [Jadon] Sancho, who's not even included in the team. That's why, that little bit of brilliance created the first goal. 

    "Of the three goals, the second is most disappointing and difficult to come back from. There were huge positives. I think the way we smashed them in the first half was fantastic, so proud of my team." 

  • 'Atletico must put heart, head and shoulders in the face of what is happening' - Simeone 'Atletico must put heart, head and shoulders in the face of what is happening' - Simeone

    Diego Simeone has demanded his players give their all to get Atletico Madrid's season back on track but admitted they are "competing well and have the desire" after being knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Real Sociedad on Wednesday.

    Goals in each half from Adnan Januzaj and Alexander Sorloth were enough to consign the Rojiblancos to a 2-0 defeat at Reale Arena, their seventh loss in their last 12 games in all competitions.

    It means that it has been four seasons since Atletico reached the quarter-finals of the Copa dey Rey, having not done so since the 2017-18 campaign.

    It is the second time in six days that Atletico have been eliminated from a cup competition, having lost 2-1 to Athletic Bilbao in the semi-final of the Supercopa de Espana last week in Saudi Arabia.

    Speaking after the game in San Sebastian, Simeone urged his players to rescue their season. They are due to play Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League, and sit in fourth place in LaLiga, though a sizeable 16 points behind leaders Real Madrid.

    "We must put our heart, our head, and our shoulders in the face of what is happening to us," he insisted. "We need to contribute together starting with the game on Saturday [at home to Valencia].

    "It's a shame because the team is competing well and has the desire to get out of this uncomfortable situation.

    "We're in a phase wherein, like many say, the dynamic is not good. We need to think about the positives. I'm optimistic and I believe in my players.

    "Football is decisive in both penalty boxes and the more decisive you are, the closer you get to winning. Hopefully, we can again find the clean sheets that were once criticised but that now hold more weight. With stability, everything else becomes easier.

    "It's a problem of football, of life. Every day is not the same. Last season was magnificent and this one is being very difficult.

    "The opportunities are there, we have the league and the Champions League. I will not stay still, that's for sure."

    Simeone was also asked about an incident prior to the game at Reale Arena when La Real fans were seen to throw objects at the Atletico bus as it pulled towards the stadium.

    "We were on a path surrounded by Real Sociedad fans, who I understand are always there, but they were protected by the people who should have dealt with the situation. Suddenly, there was no protection and everyone saw that."

  • Inzaghi delighted with Inter fightback in Coppa Italia triumph Inzaghi delighted with Inter fightback in Coppa Italia triumph

    Simone Inzaghi expressed his delight with Inter's reaction as his side came from behind to beat Empoli in the Coppa Italia last 16.

    Empoli stunned the Serie A leaders in the second half as substitute Nedim Bajrami cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's opener before the visitors fortuitously took the lead at San Siro when Ionut Radu deflected into his own net.

    Andrea Ranocchia levelled things up with a stunning, acrobatic stoppage-time equaliser to send Inter into extra-time in the last 16 of the competition for the fourth time in their last eight outings.

    Substitute Stefano Sensi stepped up to deliver the decisive strike after 104 minutes, Inzaghi's side now boasting 20 different scorers this season – more than any other team in Europe's top-five leagues in all competitions.

    Despite squandering an initial one-goal lead, Inzaghi was pleased with what he saw from his side as they made the quarter-finals for the 18th time in their last 19 seasons.

    "I think we had an excellent first half, where we found the goalkeeper who should be congratulated for two, or three, difficult saves," Inzaghi told Inter TV post-match. 

    "In my opinion, we deserved a few more goals, then in the second half we lost clarity, we stretched out. In the spaces, they showed the qualities they have. 

    "We went down, we changed players, we changed formation, but the boys gave everything on the pitch, they didn't give up and we go to the quarters with a lot of confidence.

    "We suffered, we went under, but I take the big reaction."

    Inter return to Serie A action on Saturday when they host Venezia.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.