Juan Mata: Manchester United will make the Champions League next season

United locked in a five-team battle for two Champions League spots

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The Independent Football

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata remains bullish about the club's chances of reaching the Champions League next season.

With Chelsea and Manchester City seemingly out of distance in the top two spots, United will have to battle for the remaining two Champions League places with Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton, who are all within five points of each other.

That battle starts in earnest on Sunday. With just 10 Premier League matches to play, Louis van Gaal's team face Spurs at Old Trafford, travel to Anfield in a week and still have to play Chelsea and Arsenal before the season finishes.

But Mata, who has surprisingly found himself out of the team in recent weeks despite a good start to the season, said the squad "believes" they will be in the top four at the end of the season.

"Manchester United must always play in the Champions League and we believe we’ll make it," Mata said, speaking in a Q&A session with his 8.6million fans on his official Facebook page.

Mata added that "hopefully [Tottenham]" will be a good result for us".

"I enjoy playing against Tottenham because i had some good experiences against them," he added.

The former Chelsea player has not started a game since the 3-0 FA Cup victory over Cambridge on 3 February, a run of seven matches - he was an unused substitute in four of those games, coming on in the other three.

However, Mata said he would continue to work hard to force his way back into Van Gaal's team.

"I'm working in the same way I have always done, with the same attitude and the same passion," he said. "That's all I can do, I'm always optimistic and ready to contribute to the team at any time."