Juan Mata Eager For Man United To Build Momentum
Juan Mata believes it is imperative Manchester United win their final two Premier League games to make sure they are in peak condition for their Europa League final against Ajax.
United's 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday means they can no longer finish in the top four and leaves the Europa League final in Stockholm on May 24 as their last chance of securing Champions League qualification.
The Red Devils visit Southampton on Wednesday before entertaining Crystal Palace on the season's final day.
Mata says he and his team-mates cannot afford to take them lightly.
"Now it's time to play two good games to close the Premier League and reach the Europa League final in the best shape that we can," the Spanish midfielder wrote on his blog, published on the United website.
"It's true that the calendar has been hectic over the last two months, but we have to push hard now to try to win the three remaining games. We really want to."
United manager Jose Mourinho has made it clear that the Europa League is now the club's sole focus.
He made eight changes to the team that had overcome Celta Vigo in the Europa League semi-finals for the defeat at Spurs, which left United seven points below the top four in sixth place.
Mourinho says he already has an idea of the team he would like to align against Ajax and he must now strike a balance between resting his key players and making sure they are fit for the trip to Sweden.
He has already revealed that Daley Blind will be rested for Wednesday's rearranged game at Southampton, with the versatile Dutch defender having started six of United's last seven matches.
Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford could all come into the starting XI, having started on the bench at Spurs, while Marouane Fellaini returns from suspension.