United seek festive boost by beating Young Boys

LONDON • Juan Mata has urged Manchester United to end several frustrating weeks and go into the "special month" of the festive schedule on a positive note.

Writing on his weekly blog, the Spain midfielder admitted he was still "bitter" about their 0-0 Premier League draw with Crystal Palace last Saturday, but said the "only way to get over a disappointment is to keep moving forward".

The unexpected stumble, which followed their 3-1 away defeat by Manchester City, led to Jose Mourinho questioning his players' professional pride and "lack of heart".

While Mata did not address his manager's criticism directly, he felt that today's Champions League Group H tie with Young Boys "would be a very important step towards our aim of getting to the knockout stage".

He said: "We have a key game for moving towards our objective of progressing in the Champions League. We want a win to take us into December, which is without doubt the busiest month of the year with eight games.

"There will be many weeks filled with passion that could prove decisive but, at the moment, it is best to just think about the game against Young Boys."

United defender Chris Smalling also concurred with Mata in the wake of the Palace result, telling MUTV: "It will be good to get out in front of this crowd again (on Tuesday against Young Boys) and show a better performance."

While United can progress to the knockout phase with a victory over the Swiss champions, their Champions League form is patchy.

They have failed to score in successive Champions League home games for the first time since 2005 after a 0-0 draw against Valencia followed by a 1-0 loss to Juventus.

And while United have never gone three straight European games without scoring in front of their home faithful, Mourinho also has to contend with injuries.

Defender Victor Lindelof looks set to be ruled out, having ended the Palace game in discomfort. Full-back Diogo Dalot, who made his United bow in the reverse fixture in Switzerland, where United won 3-0, is also unfit.

MAN UNITED V YOUNG BOYS

Singtel TV Ch110 & StarHub Ch202, tomorrow, 3.55am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2018, with the headline 'United seek festive boost by beating Young Boys'. Print Edition | Subscribe