• Premier League

Manchester United face 'tight battle' for top four, says Mata

ESPN staff
February 9, 2015
Van Gaal: We gave that goal away

Juan Mata admits Manchester United are in a tight battle to finish in the top-four after dropping points over the weekend.

While Daley Blind rescued a draw with an injury-time equaliser at West Ham on Sunday, United dropped two and conceded third place to Southampton, who defeated Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

They are now only one point clear of fifth-placed Tottenham with Arsenal a further point back in sixth and Mata believes it is imperative Louis van Gaal's side, who have only won two of their last six league games, beat Burnley on Wednesday.

Daley Blind scored a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a point for Manchester United against West Ham © PA Photos

The Spaniard wrote in his blog: "We play at home against Burnley and we must win this one because the race for the Champions League spots is now very close. We have to get the three points at home, we know that, and that's what we are working for."

Mata was an unused substitute at Upton Park and he claimed goalkeeper David de Gea had to be in fine form during the 1-1 draw.

He added: "We saw all the good work that West Ham are doing this season, and they were a threat to David several times. They are always tough to beat at home, and their position in the table [eighth] is well deserved."

Centre-back Phil Jones revealed that manager Van Gaal was encouraged by United's attitude as they rallied in the closing stages.

"In the end, we are disappointed in the dressing room that we didn't take all three points," he told MUTV. "But West Ham pressed us well and I think a draw was a fair result.

"Ultimately, we are disappointed. We needed to win and it was a big game for us. We have not lost, which is a plus, but we could have gained some ground. It was not to be. We have got another big game on Wednesday night now and we need to win that one as well.

"The manager said in the dressing room after the game that he couldn't fault our spirit. If we had shown that more in the first half then we might have come away with a victory. But we need to address and evaluate this game. Then we will move on to the Burnley game."

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