November 14, 2017 / 5:40 AM / 7 days ago

Man Utd must be ready for 'decisive' Christmas period: Mata

(Reuters) - Manchester United must find top form heading into what can be the “decisive” Christmas period, midfielder Juan Mata has said ahead of Saturday’s Premier League home game against Newcastle United.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United vs Crystal Palace - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - September 30, 2017 Manchester United's Juan Mata celebrates scoring their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

United, in second place, trail neighbours City by eight points after 11 games and were beaten 1-0 by champions Chelsea in their last outing before the international break.

“We return to training with the mindset on the Newcastle match and the importance of the months that lie ahead, as they come loaded with games, especially during the Christmas period,” Mata wrote on his blog on the club’s website.

“These are moments in which good form of the team can be decisive for the second part of the season.”

Mata, who has not featured in the league since last month’s 2-1 loss at Huddersfield Town, said United had to guard against complacency against Newcastle.

“Everyone knows they are newly-promoted but they are still a big club with several Spanish players ... We hope to play a good game that allows us to get all three points, and continue showing that strength in Old Trafford.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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