Unpredictability has been the story of the Premier League season so far.
When Tottenham thrashed Manchester United 6-1 back in October, few could have envisioned the Red Devils topping the Premier League table by mid-January.
When Mino Raiola declared it was “over” for the “unhappy” Paul Pogba at Old Trafford, the Frenchman playing a major role in that ascent to the summit seemed even more unlikely.
But, since those comments from Raiola in an explosive interview last month, Pogba has done his talking on the pitch and stepped up when it matters.
The midfielder put in a man of the match performance at Turf Moor on Tuesday night, scoring the winner to down Burnley and overtake Liverpool for the top spot.
“I’m always happy when I win,” said a delighted Pogba on Sky Sports at full-time.
“Obviously today we won so I’m very happy. I’m happy we played well and happy we are at the top.
“But like I said, it’s still a long way to go, there are big games coming up, so we have to focus on that, too.”
It does not get much bigger than when Pogba and co. head to Anfield on Sunday to take on the reigning champions.
And Pogba’s performance against Burnley has given Solskjaer a welcome problem – just who does he pick?
Solskjaer has settled on a 4-2-1-3 formation this term, with Bruno Fernandes making the role of United’s chief playmaker his own.
That has left Pogba to play either out on the left, as he did in impressive fashion against Aston Villa, or in a deep-lying midfield role.
It was in the latter position that Pogba excelled against Burnley, sitting alongside Nemanja Matic and utilising his strength and skill to exert a clear influence on the game.
But whilst the Matic-Pogba axis did the trick on a difficult night against Burnley, the Red Devils have largely been at their best with Fred and Scott McTominay in those roles.
Speaking after the game, club legend Gary Neville declared “I’m sure it’ll be McTominay and Fred” against Liverpool, suggesting Pogba will either have to settle for a spot on the bench or a different role.
In reality, restoring the tried and tested duo is probably the smart move against a side who will pose much more of a threat than Burnley.
Their work off the ball provides a platform for United to attack as well as protecting their defence and would seem to be the safest choice.
But Pogba’s recent form, in particular his Burnley display, poses a serious dilemma for Solskjaer.
Can he afford to leave out a potential match-winner in what is the biggest game of the season?
If not, will he be deployed in a deep-lying midfield role as he was against Burnley, or will he be shifted back to the left flank?
Those are the decisions Solskjaer will no doubt mull over in the coming days.
“I’ve always said Paul is a big, big player for us,” the Norwegian said at full-time at Turf Moor.
Now it is time for him put his money where his mouth is and make a big call over Pogba’s involvement at Anfield in a game which could define the course of their title charge.
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