Manchester United are hitting their stride at just the right time in terms of the race to secure Champions League football next season.
Saturday’s 5-2 victory saw them stretch their unbeaten run to 16 matches, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also managing three consecutive Premier League victories as United boss for just the second time.
Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes have all stolen the headlines across that run, particularly the latter of who has been credited with changing the fortunes of United since his arrival from Sporting CP back in January.
The Portuguese playmaker has already become a big fan favourite at Old Trafford after scoring seven goals and registering a further six assists in just 14 appearances so far.
However, this immediate and imposing impact at the club sparked plenty of debate as to how both he and United star Paul Pogba would feature together inside the same team when the Frenchman returned from injury.
Pogba was of course injured during Fernandes’ initially couple of months at the club, meaning both players were only available for selection within the same side after the Premier League’s restart last month when United travelled to Tottenham.
The Frenchman was on the bench for that game but has started each of United’s four matches since. Notably though, there has been an obvious change in his role within the starting 11 in those matches, mainly to accommodate for the likes of Fernandes ahead of him.
In each game, Solskjaer has lined up in his favoured 4-2-3-1 with Pogba utilised mainly on the right of his double pivot. Although he has featured here previously, he was predominantly used on the left and sometimes in a more advanced position last season.
In this deeper position on the right, Pogba has been forced to adopt a more self-sacrificing and disciplined role. This has, at first glance at least, meant his performances have been fairly unremarkable – he has yet to score and has managed just the one assist since the restart.
However, he has arguably been United’s under the radar facilitator, doing a lot of the important work for the team that doesn’t always result in a positive statistical outcome for himself.
An example of this is below in the build-up to Martial’s impressive strike vs Bournemouth.
Here, Pogba has taken up an advanced position after Fernandes dropped deep to try and get on the ball.