Manchester United’s early season slump prompted people to rule them out of the title race. After just 11 matches, United sits six points outside the top four and eight off Liverpool, in the top spot. That being said, it has just been 11 matches, which means United has plenty of time to reverse the tides and challenge their rivals for the Premier League title. Juan Mata, who has been in spectacular form for United so far this season, certainly believes so, implying that all United needs to continue to do is capitalize on rivals dropping points. Mata, who spent his early days in England at Chelsea, joined Manchester United under David Moyes, meaning he is probably the best Premier League player this decade who has not won the competition. However, he believes that could change as early as this season if the Red Devils can catapult themselves back into the title race.
“It’s true that our start to the season didn’t go as we had hoped for, but we are there. The Premier League is a competition in which all the big clubs drop points and we remain hopeful that we can get closer to the top positions.”
Speaking about his good form and the misconceptions about his relationship with Jose Mourinho, Mata said he will continue to express himself and show his true colours on the pitch, proving his doubters wrong with each passing week. After winning the Player of the Month award for Manchester United in October, Mata has expressed that he does not want to allow that month to be the last in which he produces his best football for United, especially considering he has finally found the form that made him such a great player at Chelsea.
“I want to continue to do the talking on the pitch after a strange summer, with so many things that came out that were false. I’m enjoying myself on the pitch and things are going well for me. I’ve had a good month and I want to continue to showcase my talent on the pitch.”
A massive indicator of Mata’s performance levels is his recent call-up to play for Spain, from where he gave this press conference. It is not easy to qualify to play for Spain internationally, as discovered by Ander Herrera, a great player who only earned his first cap aged 27. Mata, who openly points this out, also says that he should be in the prime of his career at 28. At the rate he is working on the pitch, Mata has obviously become a better player on a physical level, and he wants to give everything he can while he is at this age, continuing to make an impact for United and for England.
“I feel privileged each time I come here. I feel the same enthusiasm as I felt when I first got here eight years ago. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the most successful generation and the competition is fierce. It’s difficult to get a spot. Now at 28, I’m at a fantastic stage in my career. I still have a lot to give. I hope I can continue to come many more times. I hope I can continue to improve and do more things in England.”
Mata will be important upon return from international duty as Manchester United prepares to host Arsenal. With a defensive injury crisis and against a side very much in form, United will need to defy the expectations to earn a win in one of the hardest fixtures of the season. Jose Mourinho’s fire is heavily lit when it comes to battles with Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger, and as they walk out onto the touchline, United’s manager will be dependent on Mata and the rest of his chosen United side if the Red Devils are to get a win.