English Premiership

Mata not giving up United's title fight

2017-12-12 07:07
Juan Mata (Getty Images)

Manchester - Manchester United players will have to motivate themselves at home to Bournemouth on Wednesday after manager Jose Mourinho suggested their Premier League title challenge was probably over.

The 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester City on Sunday leaves United second in the table but a daunting 11 points behind their city rivals.

However, United's Spanish forward Juan Mata issued a stirring rallying call in the wake of the defeat.

"We must carry on, knowing there's still a long way to go," said Mata.

"The calendar gives you no time for mourning and we have to focus on what's next.

"The list of fixtures is very demanding this month so it's important to get to each game in the best condition possible.

"I think we have the ability to do it, even though we know these are the toughest weeks of the season.

"We are Manchester United and we have experience in playing every few days."

United's fixture list is indeed a hectic one - Wednesday's match is the fourth of nine games they face during December.

It does not help that they will once again be without France midfielder Paul Pogba, who serves the second game of a three-match ban incurred for his sending-off at Arsenal on December 2.

Pogba's influence was undoubtedly missed during Sunday's derby, although Bournemouth should be far less of a test for Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera than Manchester City were.

'Picked up little niggles'

Herrera still needs to watch his step, though, as he is one booking away from a one-match suspension, as is wing-back Ashley Young.

Mourinho has given every indication so far that he intends to persist with Romelu Lukaku, despite the Belgium striker's poor run of form in front of goal.

Having scored 11 goals in his first 10 United games, Lukaku has hit just two in 14 appearances since.

Bournemouth's 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace at the weekend left Eddie Howe's side three points clear of the bottom three.

The Cherries had Jermain Defoe to thank for claiming a point with the veteran scoring twice and offering signs he is returning to his best form after an inconsistent start to the season.

"Hopefully it's a start for him, he had a few niggles early on in the season so he was set back a little," said Howe.

"Now he's getting back to where he wants to be and that will give us a big lift."

Defoe concurred with Howe.

"I have picked up little niggles and it's been a bit stop-start," said the 35-year-old England international.

"I thought once I get a run of games and the chances come then I will score goals.

"All I have to do is make sure my recovery is right and be professional, like I have always been. We have a lot of games coming up in a short space of time."

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Saturday, 24 February 2018
Leicester City v Stoke City, King Power Stadium 14:30
Liverpool v West Ham United, Anfield 17:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Swansea City, The American Express Community Stadium 17:00
West Bromwich Albion v Huddersfield Town, The Hawthorns 17:00
Burnley v Southampton, Turf Moor 17:00
AFC Bournemouth v Newcastle United, Vitality Stadium 17:00
Watford v Everton, Vicarage Road Stadium 19:30
Sunday, 25 February 2018
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur, Selhurst Park 14:00
Manchester United v Chelsea, Old Trafford 16:05
Thursday, 01 March 2018
Arsenal v Manchester City, Emirates Stadium 21:45
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2017/18 season?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured

The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.