Stoke City v Manchester United: Juan Mata tells United team-mates to 'play quickly' if they are to beat Stoke
The Spaniard is wary of the Potters' robust style
Friday 31 January 2014
Juan Mata believes speed is the key to Manchester United getting three more valuable points from Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Stoke.
United have already had one positive result at the Britannia Stadium this season, securing an excellent win in the Capital One Cup.
Sadly for the Red Devils, it just proved to be one of numerous false dawns during David Moyes' debut campaign.
Mata's £37.1million arrival from Chelsea is aimed at securing something rather more long term.
And, with Everton and Tottenham both dropping points in midweek, the opportunity does exist for United to claim a place in the top five this weekend.
Yet Mata knows beating Stoke cannot be taken for granted.
A 3-2 defeat for Chelsea in the Potteries last month came on one of his rare Premier League starts for Jose Mourinho.
And, while Mata was part of a Blues team that romped to a four-goal success last term, the 25-year-old has been around long enough not to expect an easy time.
"It has always been difficult to play against Stoke," he said.
"They like to play long balls and are a physical team but we just need to play our own game with the quality players we have.
"If you try to play quickly, you can get chances to score and put yourself in a good position."
A raucous atmosphere is guaranteed from a sell-out crowd - not that Mata is too worried about the reception.
"The thing I like the most is to play," he said. "It doesn't matter to me what the stadium is."
With Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney back, United already look a different proposition to the team that limped into 2014.
However, defender Jonny Evans is not getting carried away.
"We can't keep saying every time we get a win that it is going to kick start our season," he said.
"We will only be able to do that in maybe five games' time.
"We need to make sure we keep performing like that."
Latest in Sport
Nicolas Otamendi to Manchester United: Club 'agree to sign' £36m-rated centre-back
Paul Scholes on Raheem Sterling: Moving between Liverpool and Manchester United still an issue
Paul Scholes: I'm sticking my neck out - Hull to win and Newcastle to be relegated on final day
Premier League 2015/16 kits: Confirmed and rumoured strips from Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and others
Gareth Bale 'wants to quit Real Madrid' and Manchester United are waiting with €120m offer
- 1 JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 4 Georgia Army veteran arrested for breaking window to save dog has charges dropped
- 5 New Zealand 'the best country to work as a prostitute', says sex worker advocacy group
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
Labour leadership: Battle lines are drawn as members battle over party's ideology at first hustings of the contest
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland