Can Paul Pogba clear his tarnished name during Chelsea's visit to Old Trafford?

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has been the subject of harsh comments as of late but has the chance to silence the critics during Sunday's visit of Chelsea.

Can Paul Pogba clear his tarnished name during Chelsea's visit to Old Trafford?
Paul Pogba grabbing a goal on his return from injury | Image via Getty Images / Oli Scarff

Paul Pogba. Need I introduce him? If you're reading this you would have definitely heard the name, and if you're up to date with the news then you will more than likely know his current situation.

He has commonly been the focus of every game and will once more have the spotlight shone on him when Antonio Conte takes his Chelsea team to Old Trafford.

It presents another chapter of a fierce rivalry. Not only because of the history of the two teams, but the hatred shared between the bosses. This particular clash though, it isn't the managers on focus, but the star name on the United side. The question is, can Pogba shake off the shackles with a dominating performance at 'The Theatre of Dreams?'

The "complete player"

Pogba is a player who many teams in the world would have craved upon his exit to Juventus in the summer of 2016. Ed Woodward though was the most eager and paid a sum around £89 million to bring him back to Manchester United, at the time a world record fee.

His first season wasn't as hoped. Suggestions were that the price tag was too heavy a burden on a player aged just 24, but the quality he possessed was obvious, with the likes of Thierry Henry saying he can become "one of the best in history," whilst Zinedine Zidane thinks Pogba is a "complete player."

Pogba began this season showing performances that we had long desired, with many claiming that the midfielder had finally settled back into the Premier League rhythm having had a full season to adjust.

The midfielder scored in each of the opening games of the league, excelling in a partnership with new recruit Nemanja Matic. However, his promising form was ended early in the season, when a hamstring injury picked up in the first Champions League game sidelined him for 12 games. Upon his return, Pogba recorded his third goal of the season but hasn't scored since.

Despite missing 10 games of the season so far, mainly due to that injury and a suspension, Pogba has racked up 9 assists. That's the third best in the Premier League, with only Leroy Sane (10) and Kevin De Bruyne (14) ahead of the Frenchman.

On the ball, Pogba's play isn't one to fault. He averages 90 touches a game and boasts a pass accuracy of 84%. It is his attitude off the ball (mainly in big games) that has been the subject of many debates recently, but Pogba could eliminate all the chat with a stand out performance on Sunday.



Yet the criticism doesn't end...

Pogba has had his name in big, bold writing in almost every sports newspaper since that encounter with Tottenham Hotspur.

During United's dire performance in the 2-0 loss last month at Wembley, Jose Mourinho substituted Pogba for Marouane Fellaini in a tactical decision to improve the stability in the middle of the park.

Following this, in the next game against Huddersfield Town at home, Pogba was dropped to the bench and only brought on the 66th minute of the match and has since been in and out of the team. Suggestions of a rift with Mourinho subsequently stole the headlines, but after Mourinho backed his player at his most recent press conference, it is time for Pogba to end the rumors himself.

Where will Pogba play?

Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba had reportedly been in a battle of words over the Portuguese's system which had restricted the Frenchman's freedom to attack. Much of the season has seen Pogba sat with Matic in a 4-2-3-1, although this wasn't a problem in the fixtures against teams out of the top 6, it became a problem in matches against England's top sides.

Mourinho's set up will once more be the focus of the match. Will he stick with the 4-3-3 that he's been craved by fans? Or will he use a back three 3-5-2 that successfully earnt United the three points in this fixture last season?

With Ander Herrera ruled out of the game, Mourinho may revert to a 3-5-2. This would see Matic and Pogba partnered in the middle, with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young on the flanks. It's a system that worked wonders for United at the Emirates in the 3-1 win, where Pogba arguably would have picked up the man of the match had he not received a red card.



Will we see the real Pogba?

Which Pogba will turn up? The answer is completely out in the air.

Pogba has the quality to hurt Chelsea but hasn't shown it enough in these type of games to suggest that he will be an obvious danger to Conte and co.

But, with the game set to attract millions of viewers, it presents Pogba the perfect opportunity to clear his tarnished name and show everyone that he truly is one of the best players in the Premier League. Personally, I'm backing him to have a big impact on Sunday's game.