Manchester United slumped to a disappointing 2-1 loss to derby rivals Manchester City on Sunday to trail the runaway leaders by a massive 11 points, but Red Devils midfielder Juan Mata stressed that they need to pick themselves up and carry on for the fixtures continue to come thick and fast.
“We’re starting yet another busy week with two more games; in this month of December there’s no truce. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish the week as we expected since the derby at Old Trafford didn’t work out as we wanted,” Mata penned on his blog.
Sunday’s result disheartened the United faithful for only did they lose their first home game in over a year, City managed to register a new Premier League record by winning their 14th game on the trot and the Sky Blues opened up an 11-point lead in the process.
“City took the lead, we tied the score before the break but in the second half we couldn’t overcome their second goal. We were close, but in the chances we had the ball just didn’t go in. The truth is these are three points like in any other game, although the defeat is painful because it was a derby. We must carry on, knowing that there’s still a long way to go. The calendar gives you no time for mourning and we have to focus on what’s next,” the diminutive Spaniard continued.
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Nicolas Otamendi had opened the scoring for the visitors towards the end of the first-half, but United responded almost immediately via Marcus Rashford to ensure the two sides went into the dressing rooms at half-time level.
The second period saw City continue to dominate and Pep Guardiola’s side deservedly took the lead via David Silva, albeit in slightly fortuitous circumstances. The Sky Blues weathered some late United pressure, with keeper Ederson making a sensational double save from Romelu Lukaku and Mata to preserve their winning streak.
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“This week we have two more games: the day after tomorrow against Bournemouth, and Sunday against West Brom. 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. In fact, last week we came back to beat CSKA in the Champions League and secure the first spot of our group. It was the best way to finish what has been a very good group stage for us,” the 29-year-old added.
United have a busy December, for after playing three games previously in the month, they have six more games left in 2017.
Jose Mourinho’s men, who are three points clear of third-placed Chelsea, will take solace from the fact that they do not face a direct rival in that period and are expected to get back to winning ways when they next host relegation-candidates Bournemouth on Wednesday.