Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United can keep the good results coming: Juan Mata

By Andy Hampson

Manchester United forward Juan Mata can feel momentum building at Old Trafford and is hopeful the side's winning run can continue throughout a busy December.

Mata got on the scoresheet as United continued their recent revival after an indifferent start to the campaign, and in spite of a lengthy injury list, by overcoming Stoke 2-1 on Tuesday.

The victory was United's fourth in succession in the Barclays Premier League and maintained their position in the top four.

The second win in that sequence was a hard-fought 2-0 success at Arsenal and Mata feels things have started to build from there.

"It was very important to win at Arsenal and then to get two wins in a row at home," said Mata, also looking back to Saturday's convincing 3-0 defeat of Hull.

"Now we have the chance to have a great December - probably the most important month in the league because we play more (games)."

The Stoke clash was actually United's first home night game of the season, a notable fixture quirk that also highlights their lack of European football this term.

The gap between fixtures shrinks now, though, with six more matches to be played up to and including New Year's Day.

United will be tested at third-placed Southampton next Monday and then by Liverpool the following weekend, but Mata believes the team spirit, much maligned last season, is now starting to shine through.

The 26-year-old Spaniard said: "The spirit is there. We have not been lucky with injuries, we've had important players that could not play, but the spirit is there.

"Everyone was very happy in the dressing room after the game because it was a difficult game and we showed character."

United went ahead against the Potters as Marouane Fellaini continued his recent good spell of form by heading home midway through the first half.

Stoke responded with a fine strike from Steven Nzonzi, but United claimed a decisive lead when Mata's 59th-minute free-kick from the right appeared to bounce straight in, although Marcos Rojo claimed to have got a touch.

United had the better of the play, but their performance was still not entirely convincing.

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