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Paul Pogba provided his fifth assist of the season as Manchester United repelled off CSKA Moscow to advance into the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 2-1 win on Tuesday night.
The France international will regrettably miss the Manchester derby on Sunday, as he begins to serve the first of a three-match ban having received a straight red during the thrilling 3-1 victory away to Arsenal last weekend.
But how well will United cope without the midfield maestro in what is by a long stretch, the biggest game of the season?
No appeal by United
Manchester United failed to launch an appeal to the Football Association following Pogba’s dismissal against Arsenal, a shrewd decision in hindsight, meant to circumvent further punishment for the 24-year old.
Seemingly livid and disappointed at his sending off, Pogba clapped in protest as he made his way off the pitch.
The action did not however trigger retrospective action by the FA, as there is the argument that he could have been applauding the away supporters.
Larger than life presence
Paul Pogba is without question the most talismanic midfielder at United and it’s easy to see why.
The Red Devils are much fluid in attack as they have scored 12 goals in five games with him, in stark contrast to the 7 goals in seven games without him.
Creating two goals against Arsenal was the perfect way to set the mood for the Manchester derby, which is why his absence may make the biggest difference for Pep Guardiola ahead of his visit to Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho will have to hatch a plan without Michael Carrick who remains sidelined and Marouane Fellaini whose inclusion hangs in the balance as the Belgian races against time to pass a late fitness test after a recurring knee injury.
If he isn’t pinging passes like Andrea Pirlo then he is either running through players like they are invisible or threading balls through the eye of a needle; Pogba will be sorely missed by United in the Manchester derby.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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