'We've seen plenty of positives with Pogba' - Solskjaer backs Man Utd star amid poor 2020-21 form

Paul Pogba Man Utd vs Arsenal Premier League 2020-21
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The Frenchman has come in for strong criticism lately, but the Norwegian head coach is cutting the midfielder some slack

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended Paul Pogba's recent form, reminding his critics that the Manchester United star has had to contend with injuries and coronavirus in recent months. 

United have endured a particularly unimpressive start to the 2020-21 Premier League season, accumulating just seven points from six matches. 

They have been especially poor at home domestically, losing to Crystal Palace, Tottenham and most recently Arsenal, while Chelsea held them to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. 

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It's the first time since 1972-73 that United have failed to win any of their opening four top-flight home games, with the 1-0 loss on Sunday ending a 14-year unbeaten run over Arsenal in Manchester. 

Pogba accepted responsibility for that defeat after he clumsily tripped Hector Bellerin in the box as the Spaniard actually headed away from goal, giving Pierre Emerick-Aubemeyang the chance to net the winner from the penalty spot. 

The criticism of United has been unrelenting since, but the scrutiny of Pogba goes back further having arguably failed to enjoy a single standout match this term. 

Ex-Red Devils assistant coach Rene Meulensteen has been among those to question the 27-year-old's performances, as he told talkSPORT at the start of the week: "He is a very talented player. Everyone keeps talking about him – he’s world class, he’s world class.

“I would never use world class so easily because I know players past and present and they deserve the accolade of being world class. In my opinion, Paul doesn’t deserve that in any shape or form because I don’t think he’s lived up to expectations."

Solskjaer, however, has sympathy with the midfielder, and has insisted that he has shown plenty of promise since returning to full fitness after the international break.

"Paul knows with that exact incident he could have done better," the Norwegian said ahead of Wednesday's Champions League trip to Istanbul Basaksehir. "He's held his hand up. That's how football is - it's high intensity, high tempo.

"Every player is frustrated, himself too, after a defeat. We need consistency from every one of our players. 

"Paul has been going through a difficult period with injury last season, with coronavirus this season, so I think we have seen plenty of positives recently and hopefully it will continue."  

United head to Istanbul having taken a maximum six points from their first two Group H matches with a commendable 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in France and a brilliant 5-0 demolition of RB Leipzig. 

Basaksehir have lost both matches in their European campaign and their Turkish title defence is not going to plan either; they sit seventh after seven games, though have won each of their previous three league matches.