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

  • Chelsea boss Tuchel takes aim at referee after ill-tempered Tottenham draw Chelsea boss Tuchel takes aim at referee after ill-tempered Tottenham draw

    Thomas Tuchel does not want referee Anthony Taylor to officiate a Chelsea game again, with the Blues boss left furious after his side's 2-2 draw with Tottenham.

    An ill-tempered encounter at Stamford Bridge looked set for a victory for the hosts after goals for Kalidou Koulibaly and Reece James, despite Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's response.

    But a last-gasp Harry Kane header earned a draw for Spurs, with the full-time whistle marked by an aggressive confrontation between Tuchel and opposite number Antonio Conte.

    Both men were shown red cards by Taylor, but much of the German's ire stemmed from his belief that the referee failed to spot a number of incidents, including an alleged offside before Tottenham's first goal and an apparent foul on Marc Cucurella by Cristian Romero prior to the late equaliser.

    Speaking after the game, Tuchel suggested it was far from an isolated number of Chelsea fans who felt Taylor made mistakes during their matches.

    "I don't think just some of the fans think that," he stated. "I can assure you the whole dressing room of us, every single person, thinks that. 

    "I can't understand how the first goal is not offside and I can't understand how when a player is pulled by their hair, the other player stays on the pitch."

    Asked whether he would prefer Taylor not to oversee Chelsea's matches, Tuchel concurred, though he also pointed to the VAR official as equally culpable for the decision-making process.

    "Maybe it would be better, maybe it would be better," he added. "But honestly we also have VAR, to help make the right decisions.

    "Since when can players have their hair pulled, since when is that? And if he does not see it I don't blame him – I didn't see it.

    "We have people at VAR who check this, and then you see it. And how can this not be a free-kick, and then a red card? How?

    "This does not even have to do with the referee in this case. If he does not see something that's why we have people to check if this is a decisive error or not."

    Tuchel failed to spot his own post-game dismissal for his part in the fracas with Conte, and made clear his displeasure that he faces a touchline ban, adding sarcastically: "So good - I cannot coach but the referee can whistle the next game."

  • 'You can only sit back and watch' - Bayern's Davies dazzled by Mane 'You can only sit back and watch' - Bayern's Davies dazzled by Mane

    Sadio Mane is a "top player" who "you can only sit back and watch", says Bayern Munich team-mate Alphonso Davies after Sunday's 2-0 win over Wolfsburg.

    The Senegal international, who arrived from Liverpool ahead of the start of the 2022-23 season, has made an instant impact at his new home, setting the Bundesliga alight with his performances.

    A superb league debut in a 6-1 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt last week saw him get himself on the scoresheet, and only a VAR intervention stopped him from finding it again this weekend.

    But even without another goal to his name, Mane - who fired the Reds to a domestic cup double last term and his country to Africa Cup of Nations glory, plus World Cup qualification - has left his team-mates impressed.

    "Sadio Mane, you see this guy, he's a top player," Davies told the Bundesliga's official website. "He's hard-working, he's fast, we try to get the ball to him as much as possible because he's a very quick guy.

    "He's a good player. We're happy to have him here. He feels good in the team and as you can see, the performances he's [shown] lately, you can only just sit back and watch."

    Dayot Upamecano also offered high praise for the forward, adding: "We know he's a very big player, he's helping us a lot. We're all very happy he's here.

    "He gave me tips about a lot of things. He's one of the best players in the world and everyone of us is happy that he's here."

    With two wins from two to start the new season, Bayern are flying in defence of their Bundesliga crown, one they earned last year despite a string of so-so performances and a frustrating Champions League campaign.

    But Davies feels they have turned a page this term for Julian Nagelsmann's sophomore season, adding: "This year, we have a mindset that we want to keep.

    "Last year wasn't too ideal for us in [the] competitions but this year, we have some new faces [and] fresh legs. It's the beginning of the season, you want to keep this momentum going. We're just enjoying playing football."

  • Forest add Freuler from Atalanta in latest transfer Forest add Freuler from Atalanta in latest transfer

    Nottingham Forest have continued their busy transfer window by bolstering their midfield with the capture of Remo Freuler from Atalanta.

    The Switzerland international arguably represents one of the biggest coups managed by Steve Cooper's side to date, making his switch to the Premier League from a regular contender for Champions League qualification.

    Freuler follows hot on the heels of Emmanuel Dennis and Cheikhou Kouyate, both of whom were confirmed as Forest players ahead of their first home game back in the top flight against West Ham on Sunday.

    A Taiwo Awoniyi goal was enough to hand the hosts a 1-0 win at the City Ground in that match, downing David Moyes' Hammers and getting Cooper's men off the mark for the season.

    Freuler, a member of his nation's squads for both the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020, netted when Switzerland beat Bulgaria last November to beat Italy to a place at this year's tournament in Qatar.

    He leaves Atalanta having made over 250 appearances for the club across all competitions, including featuring regularly in three successive Champions League campaigns between 2019-20 and last term.

    Reports have suggested Forest have agreed part with a fee of around £7.5million (€8.9m) for the 30-year-old.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.