Jose Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge with Manchester United on Sunday and Danny Higginbotham expects Paul Pogba to be used in a different role to the one he occupied on Monday against Liverpool…
Paul Pogba came in for criticism for his performance against Liverpool but showed his quality against Fenerbahce in the Europa League on Thursday.
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Sky Sports’ tactics experts Danny Higginbotham believes there were specific reasons for Pogba’s role at Anfield and expects the Frenchman to be used differently on Sunday.
“Paul Pogba was playing as a No 10 because of the way Liverpool set up,” says Higginbotham, the former Manchester United defender.
“They are a high pressing team and what that meant is that when Manchester United got the ball they would have to beat the press, so they’d look to go long themselves.
“All the players had the same idea. They wanted to play the ball up to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and to Pogba so they could beat that high press from Liverpool.”
With Chelsea setting up in a 3-4-3 formation and less likely to press United, Jose Mourinho could consider playing Pogba deeper – a move that Higginbotham believes is for the best.
“I look at the Liverpool game and he played with his back to goal a lot because of the tactical side of things and Jose Mourinho wanting to beat the press,” he explains.
“The Chelsea game will be different because Pogba will play in a slightly deeper role and I believe that suits him more.
“Pogba is at his best when he has the freedom to go forwards, a little bit like Yaya Toure when he was at his best. For me, that’s the best role for Pogba.
“With the energy that he’s got he needs that room for him to move into because when he gets into his stride there aren’t many who can keep up with him.
“We’ve seen in his recent performances where he plays deeper, he can be very instrumental in the performances of Manchester United.”
Against Chelsea, Higginbotham feels that’s where the space could be – particularly given that Ibrahimovic could occupy the home team’s back three.
“What you’ll find is that a lot of the Chelsea defenders will be tied up by Ibrahimovic because of the physical threat that he brings,” adds Higginbotham.
“So what you’ll see then is that Pogba will try to get into the spaces around Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante to go and support Ibrahimovic. So he’s running on the opposition goal.”
If that happens then, as Fenerbahce found out on Thursday, Pogba is more than capable of causing major problems for the opposition.
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