Paul Pogba's reward for Burnley bullet by may be seat on Anfield bench 8 months ago

Paul Pogba's reward for Burnley bullet by may be seat on Anfield bench

"It will be a beautiful game."

That is all we can hope for, as we try not let the Sky Sports hype get to us too much, but Paul Pogba will be hoping he can have a big influence on Manchester United's next Premier League away day.


On Tuesday, after overcoming Burnley at Turf Moor, United went top of the Premier League for the first time since September 2017. This is the first time, indeed, since the 20-time champions have been in with a shout at topping the midway standings since December 2012, back when Alex Ferguson still called the shots.

Only David De Gea and Phil Jones - currently in exile - remain in the United senior squad. Two men left standing with league winners' medals to their name, while at the club.

One man with plenty of league-winning pedigree, albeit with Juventus, is Paul Pogba. The French midfielder, who also has a World Cup triumph to his name, has take a while to come to a frothy simmer, this season, but his influence is steadily growing with each passing week.

Pogba curled in a superb equaliser in the away win over West Ham, was excellent in the second half of the 3-2 victory against Sheffield United and one of United's best players when they defeated Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

At Turf Moor, he had his best league game of the season. Bumped from penalty-taking duties, his goal return is significantly down on previous seasons, but his well-struck volley was a welcome arrival to breach a stubborn defence.

Paul Pogba volleys home against Burnley. (Credit: Getty Images)

There was a fortuitous deflection, along the way, that did for Nick Pope. These are the moments that make supporters believe something special may be possible. United fans only needed eight months of David Moyes to realise their dynasty was in trouble and many are refusing to get carried away. For Pogba, he is itching to be involved at Anfield.

"It will be a beautiful game for everyone," Pogba told the BBC after his man-of-the-match performance. "It's a big game coming up so let's get ready for it."

"We knew if we won tonight we would be top of the league when we play Liverpool. We have to keep calm, now it is the big moment. We will see what is going to happen."

For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Sunday represents an opportunity to try out this confident version of his United squad against a Liverpool team that have struggled to replicate the frankly astonishing points-accumulating deeds of the past two seasons (97 and 99 points).

Jürgen Klopp's side are without long-term injuries Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, while Joël Matip is 'running out of time' to prove his fitness for the big game. Klopp tried out Jordan Henderson and Fabinho in the centre of defence for the away loss to Southampton. Both men did decent jobs, but the Reds could have done with either in midfield and they would face a sterner task against the likes of Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood.

Solskjaer has some selection teasers to consider over the coming days, but the biggest is surely how to accommodate Pogba in a team that may welcome back both Fred and Scott McTominay into its' midfield. It has been suggested that Pogba may be benched, especially if United are content to play the counter-attack game against the champions.


Late injuries sustained by Nemanja Matic and Anthony Martial may end up making things easier for the Norwegian. There are many ways United could line up, on Sunday, but we feel these are the two most likely XIs. In a nutshell, it revolves around starting Edinson Cavani or not.

Option A

With Martial limping off on Tuesday night, Solskjaer needs a frontman and, in Cavani, he has a man with 408 (club and country) goals to his name. The only thing that may ward Solskjaer off this course of action is if he wants a more mobile target-man. Cavani missed three games before his Burnley outing, due to suspension, and whiffed at two great goalscoring chances.


Option B

With this formation, United are giving up a lot of attacking penetration on the left flank but gaining someone of Pogba's class and experience. The 27-year-old has operated on the left side of the United midfield before and, with Fred and McTominay present, be freed up to press forward and ask questions.

There is a slight variant on Pogba playing on the left, but it would bump Rashford over to a side of the pitch he often struggles to have the same impact from.


Option C

Should Solskjaer prefer either of the latter XIs, the next big question could be if he goes for the Alex Telles ahead of Shaw. The Brazilian set up his chances for United against Watford, in the FA Cup, but may not be as defensively minded as Shaw.

It has been five years since United beat Liverpool at Anfield. Should they beat the Reds on Sunday, true belief may course through the veins of fans wearied of the post-Ferguson struggles.