Football

This is bigger than Manchester Derby

Pogba all pumped up for the big clash with arch-rivals Liverpool

MAN UNITED LIVERPOOL

Move aside, Manchester City.

Matches against arch-rivals Liverpool are bigger than the Manchester Derbies, says Paul Pogba.

United welcome the Reds to Old Trafford in a hotly anticipated Premier League clash tonight.

And world-record signing Pogba, who joined United for £89m (S$155m) in the summer, is well aware of the significance of the fixture, having originally joined the Red Devils as a youngster in 2009.

"The history of the fixture is well known," the France international said on the BBC's The Premier League Show.

"It is a big derby, more so than Manchester City. The atmosphere is always very special.

"You want three points against any team, but it is more special when it comes against Liverpool."

A resurgence under manager Jose Mourinho has seen United go 15 matches unbeaten in all competitions and 11 in the league to sit sixth in the standings and five points adrift of second-placed Liverpool.

You want three points against any team, but it is more special when it comes against Liverpool.Paul Pogba

Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy has credited 23-year-old Pogba's rise in form for United's impressive run.

"Pogba's statistics show his growing influence on United's attack and I think he and (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic in particular have built up a great rapport - they both seem to know each other's game now." Murphy told BBC Sports.

"There might be an expectation from some people for Pogba to show why he is the most expensive player in the world against Liverpool, with a really dominant display in a match of this magnitude.

"If he did not play well in United's early matches against the leading teams - their defeats by Manchester City and Chelsea in September and October, for example - I would not necessarily put that down to who he was playing against.

"It was more down to him settling and the team finding their feet under a new manager. Now (Jose) Mourinho has had longer time with his players, they all look comfortable with their roles.

CONFIDENCE

"So I do not expect Pogba to do anything against Liverpool other than play the way he has been playing for several weeks now - being confident and assertive on the ball and getting high up the pitch to hurt teams.

"By doing precisely that, he has quite quickly become hugely important for United and he is now playing with a strut and a swagger, showing us what he is capable of.

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    Paul Pogba has made more passes into the final third of the opponent's half than any other player in the last 10 EPL games

"Pogba's end product was questioned earlier in the season, when he was not getting enough goals or assists, but now that United are using his attributes in the right areas, he is starting to look the real deal.

"He is getting past people, getting shots off, getting in the box and scoring goals that he did not look like he would do earlier.

"He is able to get forward more without leaving United exposed defensively because he knows he can rely on Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera to cover him."

United legend Paddy Crerand has admitted that there are similarities in Pogba's approach to his former Old Trafford teammate Sir Bobby Charlton.

Crerand is an excellent judge of a footballer and he gets to witness the first-team players at close hand in his role as a commentator at MUTV.

Pogba's superb form has impressed the 1968 European Cup winner, with both his attitude and confidence.

"Paul Pogba is just a special player," Paddy said in his column for United Review, the official match programme at Old Trafford.

"He is one of those kids who demand the ball all the time. Sometimes, if things don't go right, one or two might hide for a little spell, but he wants it constantly.

"You know who was the same? Bobby Charlton. If he made a mistake, he still wanted it.

"Others might go into their shell for a bit, but he never would. Paul's the same and I think he's fantastic." - WIRE SERVICES

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