Manchester United won their second Premier League game in a row on Wednesday, after beating Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park. The consecutive victories came as a respite for manager Jose Mourinho and his team after a recent run of draws that saw them drop crucial points in the league.
It was a spirited performance by the Red Devils as they never took the lid off throughout the game and were rightly rewarded with three points. While every member of the team contributed to the success against the Eagles, one man who stood out particularly, who was the architect of the victory for United was Paul Pogba.
Pogba was a menace going forward throughout the night and he deservedly opened the scoring for United on the stroke of half-time, finishing a chest down from Zlatan Ibrahimović from a close range. And with things level at 1-1, after James McArthur had equalised for Pardew’s side, Pogba was on hand to tee up the Swede with a beautifully weighted through ball, and Zlatan made no mistake as he sent the ball past Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal to seal the victory for the 20-time Premier League champions.
The world record signing meant business from the word go as he looked to make things happen each time he got the ball. Pogba was always threatening going forward, as he managed to create 4 chances for the Red Devils on the evening, highest by a United player on the night, one of which did culminate in the winner late in the game. His passing was spot on during the entire night, as he sprayed passes at will and picked out the runs of his teammates with great accuracy. He finished the game with 91 attempted passes, out of which 77 reached the intended target, meaning an accuracy of close to 85%.
.@paulpogba: MotM vs Crystal Palace, Rating 9.76, Goals 1, Assists 1, Key Passes 4, Dribbles 4, Passes 93 @ManUtd pic.twitter.com/V4LjlDKZx3
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 14, 2016
The Frenchman showed he was up for the challenge as he attempted 6 dribbles on the night and succeeded in going past his opponents on four occasions. He also made 2 tackle attempts, both successful, along with 6 clearances and 2 interceptions, indicating that he was always there to help his team out defensively if there was a need. With his huge presence and immense energy, he completely negated the effect of Yohan Cabaye in the Eagles’ midfield. The instance when Pogba shook off the former Newcastle and PSG midfielder with great ease to set Zlatan through on goal summed up the entire night.
Always a threat aerially, owing to his physical presence, Pogba won 6 aerial duels out of the 9 times he went up for the ball. Five of these 9 attempts were in the attacking area while 4 came in the defensive region.
He was not afraid to take a shot at goal as well, as he made four attempts at goal, the highest for United, alongside Zlatan Ibrahimović. Two of his attempted shots were on goal, one of which resulted in the opener for the Red Devils.
After a slow start to life, the Frenchman seems to have finally found his feet at Old Trafford and with such committed and dominant displays as the one against Palace, Pogba will go a long way in repaying the transfer fee that United invested in bringing him back.