EPL

Pogba hopes to combat racial 'ignorance' with new wristband initiative

By Sports Desk December 27, 2019

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba hopes to combat the continued "ignorance" being shown at football grounds by rolling out a new anti-racism initiative.

Pogba asked his United team-mates to wear a black and white wristband featuring the words 'No to racism' and 'We are one' ahead of Thursday's 4-1 win over Newcastle United.

Inspired by a similar campaign launched by compatriot Thierry Henry in 2005, Pogba acted himself rather than wait for football's top governing bodies to step in.

"It was my idea to do that," he said when asked about the wristbands. "I've been thinking about doing this but I don't want to go through UEFA or FIFA. I did it myself.

"I think we have the chance to have this power to show things in football, on TV. People see it so I think that will make people understand some things.

"I think it is down to ignorance. Ignorance and stuff like that, and just to show people that you are all one. We are all one.

"I remember when I was younger about 'Stand Up, Speak Up'. It just reminded me of that."

Pogba was subjected to racist abuse earlier this season after missing a penalty in United's 1-1 draw with Wolves - one of a number of high-profile incidents in recent months.

Jesse Lingard and Fred were also allegedly targeted during this month's Manchester derby, while Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger had a similar experience against Tottenham last week.

"A lot of players in a lot of leagues - not only in the Premier League but in Italy, Spain, everywhere - [have been racially abused] and we keep hearing this," Pogba said. 

"I don't want to be president, I don't want to be a political guy. We are just football players, we want to enjoy that. The fans needs to enjoy coming and see some nice football and that's it.

"This is to show that we're against that. I don't want to go and make interviews but I just know that it will make people talk. My team-mates, we did it. Fred, Andreas [Pereira], I mean everyone, we are against that.

"We are just for football, enjoying football. We do what we love. We give joy to the fans, to everyone, to all the spectators and that's all we want to see in the stadium. We are hearing things every week.

"We keep seeing it again and again in a lot of stadiums. It's just to show that, to give support to all the players - black or white or Chinese or whatever you are - and just to show respect to everyone."

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    The Slovenian goalkeeper has been touted as a possible target for Chelsea after impressing over six seasons with Atletico.

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    "I reflect on the season when the last game is over and hopefully we have three left. Then there will be time to talk. But first, Leipzig. I really want to get through.

    "All of us who are here [in Lisbon] deserve it, but I hope our moment has come. It's difficult to think beyond this game, you have to beat Leipzig and then look at other things.

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    Atletico's preparations for the game have been disrupted by the positive COVID-19 tests of two players, forward Angel Correa and defender Sime Vrsaljko.

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    "I have not spoken much with them, but I have messaged them and they are fine, they do not have any symptoms or any problems," Oblak said.

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    TIM-WOE WITHOUT WERNER?

    The raw numbers show Werner was, and prepare to be very shocked here (disclaimer: you won't be), Leipzig's most potent forward this season – yeah, we were surprised too.

    His 28 goals was bettered only in Germany's top flight by Robert Lewandowski (another surprise…), with Schick's 10 the next best of our four chosen Leipzig players. Sabitzer had nine and Poulsen five.

    Of course, that does not tell the full story given Werner played all 34 games, while Sabitzer (32), Schick and Poulsen (both 22) each played fewer.

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    Werner's 64 shots on target equate to 2.05 per 90 minutes, which is also better than Schick (1.38), Sabitzer (0.86) and Poulsen (0.74).

    So, not particularly friendly reading for Leipzig fans so far. Things do not get much better when looking at big-chance conversion, with Werner's at 46.15 per cent.

    Schick's 42.86 is not too far behind, but Sabitzer (22.22) and Poulsen (37.5) are some way off Werner's figure.

    A shot conversion rate of 28 per cent means Werner also led in this category. Throw in five braces and three hat-tricks, none of the other three managed any in those areas, and the Germany star's absence is pretty pronounced.

    Werner had eight assists too, with Sabitzer only one back here on seven.


    BREAKING DOWN DIEGO'S DEFENSIVE WALL

    Of course, it is not just Werner's goals that make this such a difficult tie. Even with him involved getting through Atletico's notoriously difficult defence would have been tricky.

    And there is plenty of encouragement for Atleti when looking at the numbers since LaLiga resumed in June.

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    In the 27 matches pre-lockdown, the opposition scored 21 times and Atleti registered 11 shut outs.

    Their tackle success jumped up slightly from 61.23 per cent to 63.37, while there were no errors leading to goals in the 11 games since the resumption (impressively there were only two in this category pre-lockdown).

    In terms of shots on target faced, Atleti averaged out at three per game (81 from 27 before the league was suspended, 33 in 11 after the restart).

    For total shots, Atleti faced a few more on average (11.6 compared to 10.6) but there is no doubting Leipzig face a daunting task.

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    - While it looks like Jadon Sancho may remain at Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United are not giving up on the star attacker. The Mirror reports the Premier League club have put other moves on hold as they chase Sancho.

    - Staying at Old Trafford and Paul Pogba's future is yet to be sorted. Sky Sports reports the midfielder, who is contracted until 2021 with the club holding an option to extend it for a further year, is expecting talks over a new deal after United's Europa League campaign ends.

    - After crashing out of the Champions League in the last 16, Real Madrid have been expected to strengthen. However, Marca reports Madrid have told players there will be no new signings.

    - With Ismaila Sarr linked to Liverpool, Watford are seemingly holding firm. The Evening Standard reports Watford are demanding £40m for Sarr, who has also been linked to Wolves and Crystal Palace.

    - Arsenal and Roma could be close to a swap deal. Nicolo Schira reports the clubs are in advanced talks about a deal that would send Lucas Torreira to the Serie A club and Amadou Diawara to Arsenal.

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