EPL

Pogba claims Man Utd players no longer 'cheating' each other as Red Devils chase title

By Sports Desk January 27, 2021

Paul Pogba believes Manchester United stars are no longer "cheating" each other by expecting others to work hard, a change that is propelling their title charge.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side will return to the top of the Premier League if they beat Sheffield United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

At this stage of 2019-20, the Red Devils were eighth in the table and 24 points behind leaders Liverpool, but they have gained an extra 12 points from the same number of games this term.

Pogba has been key to their recent run of 10 wins and three draws from their past 13 Premier League matches, having recovered form and fitness following time out with coronavirus.

Since December, he is in the top three United players for completed passes, tackles, interceptions, dribbles completed and goals, while he has won back possession 67 times, more than any team-mate.

It is that level of hard work without the ball that has been crucial to United's improved performances under Solskjaer, according to the 2018 World Cup winner.

When asked by former United star Rio Ferdinand on BT Sport what has changed within the squad, Pogba said: "I would say the mentality. We play more as a team, defending much better, pressing much better together.

"No one is cheating. What I mean is no one is running less, or not making the effort to come back."

Asked if that was a problem previously, he said: "I think yes, it's always been a problem. When you're all together, it's always going to be easier. If someone is making less effort, it's going to be a little problem for the team.

"When we're all together, we have the same mentality, we work hard, it's better and you see the results."

Pogba is now determined for United to deliver on their promising run of results and end a trophy drought stretching back to 2017, when they won the EFL Cup and Europa League.

The midfielder would be far happier to claim silverware this term by playing an attractive brand of football.

"From last year, this year, it's surprising [to be so close to the top] but we were expecting that, to get closer," he said. "That's the goal, it's the challenge to get there at the top, the level of Manchester City, Liverpool - that's what we want to do.

"I don't want to say that we're here yet, because we're not. They won trophies; we didn't. We're still behind them.

"We have to keep putting in the work and improving. We've been doing well. In six months, we want to say the same thing: 'Man United, they've been great this season, the best team in the league'. That's what we want to hear at the end of the season. We don't want to hear, 'oh, they're playing well, but they didn't win anything'. We have to keep working as we haven't won anything yet.

"That's what we want to do: play well and win trophies. We don't only want to win trophies and playing ****. We'd still be happy but we're trying to get back the winning mentality."

Pogba admits he would rather be playing in a more advanced role but certainly accepts his form has improved through speeding up his use of the ball.

"In this league, I don't get as much time as I want," he said. "I like to have touches of the ball and people press me more, the [opposition] team leaves some players on me.

"Now, I just try to play quicker, so I can limit the space behind me, playing more as a team than an individual, even though sometimes I like to hold the ball and pass the player. But it would be better to play one, two-touch and get in the box.

"When I play like that, I see the difference, I won't lose the ball or anything so I feel more comfortable. It's good, it helps the team, it helps me, because, mentally, when you lose the ball, some people cannot get on the ball again. Me? You know me. I like to be on the ball.

"I try to play just, to do the right thing at the right time. I think it's right to play faster."

Related items

  • Australian Open: Cornet 'felt out of breath all the time' in Collins loss Australian Open: Cornet 'felt out of breath all the time' in Collins loss

    Alize Cornet "felt out of breath all the time" during her Australian Open quarter-final loss to Danielle Collins.

    Collins was too good for Cornet in a 7-5 6-1 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, reaching her second Australian Open semi-final in four years.

    The American 27th seed hit 28 winners and 29 unforced errors in a strong performance against Cornet, who was playing her maiden major quarter-final.

    Cornet said Collins, who will face Iga Swiatek in the last four, never allowed her to settle at Melbourne Park.

    "Well, she's very powerful, even more than what I expected. Her ball is going really fast in the air and she takes the ball super early," the Frenchwoman said.

    "All the time you feel really oppressed. I felt out of breath all the time. I couldn't, like, place my game. She just never let me do it, never gave me the time to do it. Yeah, she's impressive.

    "But today she was pretty quiet. She didn't scream that much. When I see her playing on TV, sometimes she's yelling, 'C'mon.' She looks like a lion.

    "Today I don't think I gave her enough battle so she could express herself."

    Collins was playing her first quarter-final since the 2020 French Open and dictated from the outset against Cornet.

    The 28-year-old hopes her experience in the latter stages of tournaments helps her late in the Australian Open.

    "Yeah, I think now that I've made quarter-finals at French and semi-finals here before, I think I can use those experiences to certainly help me in the tight-pressure moments on court. I can use that to my advantage," Collins said.

    "Last time I was here in the semi-finals I had never done that before. I've made some deeper runs in tournaments since then. Hopefully I can carry the confidence that I've gained over the last couple years and be able to use that to my advantage."

  • Rumour Has It: Arsenal switch focus to Isak after Vlahovic chooses Juventus Rumour Has It: Arsenal switch focus to Isak after Vlahovic chooses Juventus

    Arsenal's search of attacking reinforcements has apparently led to Alexander Isak after it became clear Dusan Vlahovic is seemingly headed to Juventus.

    With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of form and ostracised at the Emirates Stadium and Alexandre Lacazette struggling for goals, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is desperate to land attacking reinforcements in January.

    Their hunt for Fiorentina hitman Vlahovic has apparently failed but Sweden star Isak may be a potential option for the Premier League side.

    TOP STORY – ISAK THE MAN FOR MIKEL?

    Vlahovic has been a man in demand during the January transfer window, though it appears Juve have won the race in a €75million deal.

    Arsenal are now thought to be turning their attention to Real Sociedad forward Isak, and are reportedly ready to make him their club-record signing by paying £75million, which would trigger Isak's release clause.

    Isak scored 17 goals in 34 LaLiga outings last term, but he has managed just four from 18 top-flight appearances in 2021-22 thus far.

    ROUND UP

    - Newcastle United's pursuit of new players in their fight against relegation has reportedly led to a €40m (£33.5m) bid for Lyon's defensive midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to the Guardian. Arsenal and Juventus have also been touted as potential suitors.

    - The Evening Standard says Tottenham are planning a loan deal for Fiorentina's Sofyan Amrabat as Antonio Conte looks to bolster his midfield with Tanguy Ndombele, Dele Alli and Giovani Lo Celso all set to be allowed to leave. A move for Georginio Wijnaldum, whose move to Paris Saint-Germain has not exactly gone to plan, has also been tipped.

    - Germany full-back Robin Gosens could be about to swap Atalanta for Serie A rivals Inter, with a move in the "final stages", says Fabrizio Romano.

    - Nicolas Tagliafico has told Ajax he wants to joined Barcelona in what he considers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Goal first reported Barca coach Xavi was eyeing the left-back to provide competition for Jordi Alba.

    - Donny van de Beek is seemingly headed for a loan move out of Manchester United. Crystal Palace are said by Sky Sports to be in direct negotiations with the Red Devils, while a temporary switch to Valencia is also an option.

  • Australian Open: Swiatek seals semi-final spot after lengthy Kanepi battle Australian Open: Swiatek seals semi-final spot after lengthy Kanepi battle

    Iga Swiatek came through a huge battle against Kaia Kanepi to advance to the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

    Swiatek, the Polish seventh seed, made her second grand slam semi after a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 victory over Kanepi on a warm day on Rod Laver Arena.

    The 2020 French Open champion held off Kanepi, who suffered a seventh defeat in as many grand slam quarter-finals.

    Swiatek fought hard and needed three hours, one minute to progress to a meeting with American 27th seed Danielle Collins.

    The steadier start was made by Swiatek, with Kanepi saving break points in each of her opening three service games.

    But the Pole was having some trouble with her serve, a fifth double fault giving Kanepi a break point in the seventh game, the Estonian converting with a fine forehand return winner.

    Swiatek held after a gruelling 16-minute ninth game, saving four set points as the Rod Laver Arena crowd started to come to life.

    Kanepi had won only one set in her six previous grand slam quarter-finals, but she eventually served out the opener against Swiatek, converting her ninth set point.

    After Kanepi broke in the opening game of the second set, Swiatek – who was starting to move the veteran around the court – reeled off four straight games.

    However, Kanepi responded, a pair of Swiatek double faults helping her break back in the seventh game on the way to a tie-break.

    Swiatek was the more consistent of the two players in the tie-break to send the quarter-final into a deciding set.

    After the players traded breaks early in the third set, Swiatek took a 3-2 lead after Kanepi sent a forehand narrowly wide before managing a tough hold in the sixth game.

    Swiatek charged into a 5-2 lead and while her attempt at serving it out did not go to plan, she sealed her win with another break after a tremendous defensive point.

     

    DATA SLAM: Swiatek hard to beat at majors

    It takes a fair bit to beat Swiatek at a grand slam.

    The 20-year-old is now 30-2 at majors against opponents ranked outside the top 30 after getting past world number 115 Kanepi.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Swiatek – 31/50
    Kanepi – 35/62

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Swiatek – 5/12
    Kanepi – 5/4

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Swiatek – 6/13
    Kanepi – 5/13

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.