Juan Mata believes it is crucial Manchester United stamp down their position in the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
United have deviated in and out of the top four spots ever since the beginning of the season and are clinging on in a battle where five teams are separated by just a handful of points.
Defeat to Swansea on Saturday was a major setback given their run of one defeat in 19 but Southampton’s defeat and Tottenham’s draw meant United stayed in fourth.
With Arsenal and particularly Liverpool in good form, United know they have to improve or else both will pip them to third and fourth and Mata knows how important it is to keep picking up points.
He said: “There are still a lot of games to go, we are in a race to win the FA Cup so we will try to win it because it’s been a long time since the club won it and it’s something very important for us.
“Obviously it’s crucial for us to get into the top four at the end of the Premier League season.
“Right now we are facing a crucial moment in the Premier League, obviously the last 10 games are very important and we also have the FA Cup tie against Arsenal. It will be difficult but I think we have to do it because it is an important moment and we have to perform.”
Despite the 2-1 defeat on Saturday, Mata insists they could have taken something from the game had they cashed in on their superior possession after the break.
“It’s true that it wasn’t a good game for us, although I think we played in their half and in the second period we were close to scoring the second goal,” he added.
“But we didn’t and obviously when you play for Manchester United everyone is expecting the best from you, to play well and to win but obviously this is not very easy to do. We are trying to do it because the fans deserve something good.”
United are about to embark on a run of games which will see them host Tottenham, travel to Anfield, play Arsenal in the FA Cup before further games at home to Manchester City and away to Chelsea.
With Spurs looking tired after Europa League exploits against West Ham on Sunday, United will hope both they and Liverpool qualify for the next round as it means both will play the Thursday before the respective upcoming fixtures.
With Arsenal playing well and looking solid in the top four, Liverpool’s ability to handle the extra European games may be the key as to whether they beat United to fourth spot with Spurs, and particularly Southampton, starting to slip.