Juan Mata says Manchester United must look at their next six matches as “finals” after a “bittersweet” run of results in November.
United lost none of their five games and conceded just two goals, but back-to-back draws against PSV and Leicester City have proven to be potentially damaging results in both the Premier League and Champions League.
Louis van Gaal’s side missed the chance to overtake Manchester City at the top of the table with that 1-1 stalemate at the King Power Stadium and must beat Wolfsburg away from home to guarantee their place in the knockout rounds in Europe after being held by the Dutch champions.
“November was an important month in our calendar and it leaves a bittersweet taste: in the last 30 days we haven’t been defeated, but the last two draws haven’t been good for us,” Mata wrote in his latest blog. “Especially the one on Wednesday against PSV, because we knew it was a game that we had to win.
“Winning in Wolfsburg is almost the only valid result for us if we want to get through. It’s not an easy task but we are confident that we can make it to the next stage. The Champions League is a very important competition for us and we want to remain in it.
“That game in Germany will be one of the six ‘finals’ we are facing in a busy December. The next game – therefore the most important one right now – is on Saturday against West Ham. They have had a good start this season and have won more games away than at home. However, as I said, we don’t like draws and we want to go back to the victories.”
Mata praised Leicester striker Jamie Vardy after his goal against United saw him become the first player to score in 11 consecutive Premier League matches, but the Spain international admits any further draws could prove costly to his side’s title hopes.
“Things are very tight in the top side of the table. It’s not easy to defeat the teams who are up there, as we could see in Leicester last Saturday,” he added. “We believed we could win, but at the end we only got one point, despite it we took the initiative most of the time.
“Congratulations to Jamie Vardy for breaking the record of such a great player as Ruud van Nistelrooy. Scoring in 11 consecutive games deserves a lot of credit. Sadly his goal made us drop two points, otherwise we would be leading the table now.
“There’s still a long way to go, but if we want to fight for the Premier League title we have to win these kind of games…”