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Paul Pogba v Jack Wilshere: The key battle when Manchester United face Arsenal
Last Updated: 29/04/18 4:02pm
Who will come out on top in the midfielder battle between Paul Pogba and Jack Wilshere at Old Trafford on Super Sunday? We take a look.
Manchester United are aiming to secure a top-four finish by beating Arsenal, and Paul Pogba will need to get the better of Jack Wilshere if they are to do so.
Since being restored to the Manchester United starting line-up against Swansea at the end of last month, Pogba has scored two goals, made two assists and won two of the club's man of the match awards in five appearances.
"I'm not expecting him to be phenomenal every match but to keep a certain level," said Jose Mourinho of Pogba recently. The Frenchman seems to have taken his advice on board and has actually improved his level in several key areas.
Paul Pogba's last five games
|Pogba 2017/18||Pass acc.||Pass acc. in opp. half||Chances created/game||Shots on target/game||Mins per goal/assist|
|Last five games||88%||85%||1.6||1.2||102|
Manchester United are desperate for Pogba to become the linchpin of the side, capable of bossing games and providing exceptional moments. To that end, he has 12 assists in all competitions this season, twice as many as he provided in the whole of last season.
He has only provided more assists in one season, the 2015/16 campaign, when his total of 14 helped persuade United to pay a then world record £93m for his services.
In the reverse fixture against Arsenal back in December, he provided his first two assists against a top six opponent - playing in Antonio Valencia to open the scoring inside four minutes and then crossing for Jesse Lingard's second goal.
He was later shown a red card for his challenge on Hector Bellerin, but there were clear signs that he could positively influence the outcome of big games.
Since returning to England, a common accusation aimed at Pogba is that he needs to do more in these games and while this is borne out by the stats, there has been an improvement this season. His match-winning double against Manchester City, his first goals against a top-six side, should give him great confidence going into Sunday.
Pogba's PL record since re-joining Manchester United
|Pogba 2017/18||v top six sides||v the rest|
|Mins per goal/assist||237||177|
|Touches in opp box/90||2||4|
For Arsenal, Wilshere is expected to be involved on Sunday having recovered from an ankle injury. While being far from an ever-present this season, he has only made more appearances in one campaign - when he played 49 times for Arsenal in 2010-11.
England manager Gareth Southgate has said that the door remains open for the 26-year-old midfielder to earn a place in his 2018 World Cup squad, and with just four Premier League games remaining, Sunday's encounter represents a great chance for him to prove his worth.
Southgate must name his preliminary World Cup squad by May 14, with the final 23-man squad to be submitted by June 4, so Wilshere will be keen to showcase his skills at Old Trafford and prove that he offers something different to the other offensive-minded midfielders vying for a place in the squad.
With his former team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain now ruled out with an injury, it's the Arsenal man's range of passing and forward drive that will be of particular interest to England.
Wilshere v England offensive midfielders - Premier League 2017/18
|Player||Forward pass/game||Pass completion||Successful take-ons/game||Shooting accuracy|
The Gunners are the only side in England's top four divisions who have yet to pick up a single point on the road in 2018, losing all five Premier League away games, which is their worst run of successive away defeats in Premier League history.
In addition, Arsenal have failed to win any of their last 10 Premier League visits to Old Trafford. Arsene Wenger will be relying on his midfield to dominate the game if they are to end those dismal runs in what will be his 19th and potentially final managerial meeting with Jose Mourinho.
Watch Manchester United v Arsenal, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4.15pm on Sunday.