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.
Manchester United alternate XI
Manchester United alternate XI
1/11 GK: David De Gea
No question over the place of the brilliant Spaniard; one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
2/11 RB: Rafael
For whatever reason, the Brazilian seems to have completely lost the trust of Van Gaal and only started six matches in the Premier League, and not since 26 October, with winger Antonio Valencia starting in defence instead. But Rafael, although sometimes very rash, is a good defender, always gives his 100 per cent and is an asset going forward. He would be an upgrade over Valencia.
3/11 CB: Chris Smalling
A long way from the finished article, Smalling has all the tools to be a top class centre-back but appears to lack the calmness or reading of the game to truly make the next step. Has been United's most reliable centre-back this season when fit, but the club certainly need to upgrade in the summer.
4/11 CB: Phil Jones
Like Smalling, Jones has all the tools but he too can make rash decisions and would be better with a more experienced head alongside him. Only just coming back from injury so if Shaw is fit Rojo should play in the middle.
5/11 LB: Marcos Rojo
Whether playing at centre-back, on the left of a back three, at wing back or at left-back, there haven't been too many complaints about Rojo, who on the whole has looked decent. He's decent on the ball and strong (if a little rash) in the tackle, and by and large a good defender. If Luke Shaw - who has enjoyed a mixed season but shown potential - is fit enough he should start, with Rojo replacing Phil Jones in the centre.
6/11 CM: Ander Herrera
That Ander Herrera has only started nine Premier League matches this season is a complete mystery to most. He has three goals and three assists in the league, is strong in the tackle, good on the ball and, unlike Carrick and Blind who like to stay deep, is willing to get up and support his forwards with late runs. Has been starting recently but needs a run of games next to Carrick.
7/11 CM: Michael Carrick
Daley Blind is a firm Van Gaal favourite but despite showing a couple of neat touches here and there, he offers very little as a central midfielder. He plays in a very safe manner, only ever going sideways and backwards and rarely breaking forward or creating chances. The same accusations have been thrown at Carrick over the years but he is better - Manchester United's best performances this season (in December/January) have come with Carrick pulling the strings.
8/11 RW: Antonio Valencia
Proved yet again that he is not a right-back. Terrible against Arsenal, he was partially to blame for the first goal, when he turned his back on Oxlade-Chamberlain, and completely to blame for the second goal with a poor back pass. But he is a very effective and direct winger and should be restored to his proper position - if Ashley Young is not fit enough to play.
9/11 AM: Juan Mata
The brilliant Spaniard must be wondering what he must do - besides grow a foot taller and add a stone of muscle - to make it in the Premier League. He was brilliant at Chelsea before moving to Old Trafford and when he has played he possesses the kind of creative instincts Van Gaal favourite Marouane Fellaini could only dream of.
10/11 LW: Adnan Januzaj
Never mind his latest diving incident against Arsenal, the talented Belgian has been vastly underused by Van Gaal. Part of that is because Di Maria has to play but now he is out, the Belgian should start. He showed too much promise in his debut season to be so marginalised. If Ashley Young is fit enough to play he should start on the left with Januzaj moving to the right instead of Valencia.
11/11 ST: Wayne Rooney
Playing Rooney in midfield isn't the worst option, he can play there in a pinch, but you lose so much by not playing him up top. He is such a dynamic force at his best that he has to play - it's not like Van Persie and Falcao have been on fire when they have played. Three goals in three games since returning to the front line shows his quality.
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."
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