Analysing which midfield gets the best out of Pogba – where will Matic fit?

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Manchester United completed the signing of Nemanja Matic from Chelsea on Monday to give their engine room a major boost ahead of the new season.

The Serbian was part of the Blues’ Premier League title-winning side from last season and has moved to Old Trafford for a £40million fee.

Matic made 35 appearances in the Premier League for Chelsea last season, scoring one goal and providing seven assists for his team-mates.

One team-mate he will no doubt be looking forward to playing with is United’s world-record signing Paul Pogba, who will be looking to build on a polarising season with the Red Devils.

The pair will no doubt be playing together, either as a pair or as part of a midfield three, next term, with Pogba used to playing with different partners.

We take a look at Pogba’s stats from the 2016-17 season to analyse who brought out the best in him.

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As a pair

In 29 Premier League starts last season, Pogba started in a midfield pair on 11 occasions with various degrees of success. Of those 11 fixtures, United won five, drew four and lost two, playing in three different midfield pairings.

Early on the France international teamed up with Marouane Fellaini for a short period of four matches where they won two and lost two, giving them a win percentage together of exactly 50%.

It started off well with wins over Southampton – in which Pogba picked up the man of the match award – and Hull, encouraging Jose Mourinho to try the duo again versus Manchester City and Watford. However, two losses in those matches spelled the end of the pairing for the rest of the campaign.

Pogba was still settling in at United when Mourinho tried him next to Ander Herrera with some success. The Spaniard allowed Pogba to get further up the field and the duo remained unbeaten as a pair when called upon in the 2016-17 campaign.

In six appearances together they won three and drew three matches, while Pogba managed to bag a goal, an assist and a man of the match award.

Michael Carrick was given the opportunity to impress next to Pogba in a match against Bournemouth near the end of last season but they failed to take their chance as the fixture ended 1-1.

Pogba with Fellaini
Appearances: 4
Win record: 50%
Goals: 0
Assists: 0
Man of the match: 1

Pogba with Herrera
Appearances: 6
Win record: 50%
Goals: 1
Assists: 1
Man of the match: 1

Pogba with Carrick
Appearances: 1
Win record: 0%
Goals: 0
Assists: 0
Man of the match: 0

(N.B. Goals, assists and man of the match relate to Pogba only.)

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As part of a trio

Mourinho much preferred playing the former Juventus star as part of a three in midfield with Pogba – 18 of his 29 starts in the Premier League saw him join two others in central midfield.

The most successful combination was when he joined Fellaini and Carrick in midfield for the 3-1 victory over Swansea – with the Frenchman getting on the scoresheet – giving the trio a 100% win ratio for the season.

However, fairer comparisons are in Pogba’s other two combinations with Herrera and Fellaini, and Carrick and Herrera.

The 24-year-old was at his most effective when slotted in a midfield three with Carrick and Herrera last season, with two assists, a goal and a man of the match award in nine appearances.

Alongside Herrera and Fellaini, he only had one goal in seven appearances to show on a personal level from his time on the field as a trio with Herrera and Fellaini.

That said, he did have a higher win percentage of 57.1% with Herrera and Fellaini compared with 55.5% with Carrick and Herrera.

Young midfielders Axel Tuanzebe and Scott McTominay helped produce one of Pogba’s best performances in a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in the final match of the season, where he picked up man of the match for an all-action display.

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Pogba with Fellaini and Carrick
Appearances: 1
Win record: 100%
Goals: 1
Assists: 0
Man of the match: 0

Pogba with Herrera and Carrick
Appearances: 9
Win record: 55.5%
Goals: 1
Assists: 2
Man of the match: 1

Pogba with Herrera and Fellaini
Appearances: 7
Win record: 57.1%
Goals: 1
Assists: 0
Man of the match: 0

Pogba with Tuanzebe and McTominay
Appearances: 1
Win record: 100%
Goals: 1
Assists: 1
Man of the match: 1

Overall

Overall, when in midfield with Fellaini, United’s record signing has a win percentage of 58.3, slightly higher than with either Herrera (54.5) or Carrick (54.5).

Altogether as a pair or as part of a trio, Pogba played 22 times in the centre with Herrera, 12 with Fellaini and 11 with Carrick – and was most successful on a personal level when on the pitch with Herrera, scoring three goals, creating three assists and collecting two man of the match awards.


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