Manchester United vs Burnley: Juan Mata focusing on top four and FA Cup success as United's title challenge fades away

United salvaged a 1-1 draw with West Ham on Sunday to slip 12 points behind league leaders Chelsea

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The Independent Football

Juan Mata insists the Manchester United squad remain determined to secure a top four finish in the Premier League and return to the Champions League at the first time of asking.

United scraped a draw against West Ham on Sunday evening after a late Daley Blind goal salvaged a 1-1 draw with the London side, who went ahead courtesy of a Cheikhou Kouyate opener.

Louis van Gaal’s side are currently in fourth position, a point behind Southampton and 12 points off pace-setters Chelsea, and despite Van Gaal’s insisting that the title is not beyond them earlier in the season, a top-four finish is likely to be the best United fans can hope for.

 

It’s exactly what Spanish midfielder Mata is aiming for, along with a strong run in the FA Cup after coming through the fourth round replay with Cambridge United last week, and the 26-year-old explained on his blog that United need to win their next game, which comes against Burnley at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

“We did better in the FA Cup than in the Premier League, nevertheless we were able to rescue one point thanks to Daley’s good volley at the end,” wrote Mata. “We saw all the good work that West Ham are doing this season, and they were a threat to David [De Gea] several times. They are always tough to beat at home, and their position in the table is well deserved.

“Against Cambridge at Old Trafford we were able to win, so we are through to play Preston in the next round. But that is Monday next week. Before that 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. I’m sure we will make it with our people’s help.”

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Juan Mata is targeting a top-four finish this season

Mata added that playing in front of home fans at the Theatre of Dreams does have an effect on the team, and believes the win over Cambridge – 82 places below United in the Football League ladder – demonstrated the influence the supporters can have on the squad’s mentality.

“That’s exactly what happened against Cambridge,” he added. “Playing the ‘replay’ at Old Trafford is always special to us because we do feel the extraordinary support of the United fans.

“We know every game is special, and on this occasion the victory was for all the supporters who were facing the cold to be with us. It was a great night because I had the chance to score one of the goals, and also because, as I always say, I like very much the FA Cup.”

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