Manchester United vs Aston Villa: Juan Mata backs United to overhaul Arsenal and Manchester City to finish second

Mata feels that with games against both teams left to play, United stand a very good chance of finishing in the top-two this season

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The Independent Football

Juan Mata has backed Manchester United to not only catch their fierce rivals Manchester City, but to pass them and finish second in the Premier League table.

The Spanish midfielder masterminded the 2-1 victory over Liverpool a fortnight ago as he scored both goals against the Reds to deliver a knockout blow to their top four aspirations. However, with breathing space now between them and Liverpool, Mata is looking up the table rather than down it.

With the Premier League visit of Aston Villa to Old Trafford later today followed by the Manchester derby next week, United know that victory at the Etihad will lift them above their rivals providing they don’t come unstuck against Villa.

 

Mata, who joined United from Chelsea in January 2014 for £37.1m, believes that they can overhaul City as well as Arsenal and complete their Champions League return when the season comes to an end in May.

Speaking on BBC’s Football Focus, Mata said: "We are one point and two points from City and Arsenal and I think we can do it," Mata told the BBC Football Focus.

"We can even be second if we win the direct games against them."

Arsenal will have the first opportunity to stretch their advantage as they take on Liverpool in today’s lunchtime kick-off, with the Gunners fully aware that victory will see them move nine points clear of fifth-place Liverpool, and temporarily above City into second, with Manuel Pellegrini’s side not playing until Monday night in their trip to Crystal Palace.

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Mata's acrobatic volley against Liverpool

It could yet come down to the penultimate weekend of the season, when United entertain Arsenal at Old Trafford, although the FA Cup home defeat to the Gunners will still be fresh in the mind of Louis van Gaal’s side.

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