Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be expected to name Paul Pogba in his starting lineup on Wednesday night when Sheffield United visit Old Trafford, following on from the Frenchman’s impressive comeback cameo last Friday.
Pogba came off the bench against Tottenham for his first appearance in six months and changed the game for United, winning the penalty that ultimately handed his side a crucial point.
Now, after a season that has been ravaged by troublesome foot and ankle problems, Pogba will more than likely be back in the XI for the first time since United faced Arsenal in late September, a week shy of nine full months ago.
It is not just Pogba’s return that fans are keen for. The Spurs game showed a glimpse of the blossoming partnership between the 27-year-old and January signing Bruno Fernandes.
Fernandes lifted the whole squad in Pogba’s absence following his mid-season arrival from Sporting CP, but just as United’s number six was at last nearing full fitness the 2019/20 campaign was put on hold as the country and wider world dealt with the coronavirus pandemic.
With a 20-minute taster out of the way, the stage is now set for that relationship to get its first real test in a game situation and there is arguably no better fixture for it than Sheffield United.
Favourites to be relegated before a ball was kicked, the Blades have thrived this season because of their defensive strength – only Leicester and Liverpool have conceded fewer than their 28.
The back five is well drilled and will be intent on snuffing out United’s attacking threat, especially after being surprisingly torn apart by Newcastle in their last outing. Giving as much protection for stand-in goalkeeper Simon Moore, deputising for Dean Henderson – who is ineligible to play against his parent club, will also be high on their list of priorities.
The Blades won’t play on the front foot and the onus is therefore on the United of Manchester to break down the resolute defensive structure that will position itself in front of them.
Although Solskjaer is thought to ultimately want to build a team that includes both Pogba and Fernandes in the same XI, facing Spurs required a more delicate balance in midfield and so United lined up with the more defensively disciplined Scott McTominay and Fred.
But the pressure on the defence will be less on Wednesday evening and United will need the dual creativity from Pogba and Fernandes in tandem to get the goals they need to win.
Source : 90min