(Reuters) - Manchester United must win their upcoming games during the festive period if they hope to catch Premier League leaders Manchester City, captain Antonio Valencia has said.
United are second in the league, 11 points behind rivals Manchester City, and play five games before the end of the year, starting with Sunday’s clash against 17th-placed West Bromwich Albion.
“The important thing we have to do now is win,” Valencia told the club’s website (www.manutd.com).
“We can’t really afford to lose or even draw, it’s about focusing ourselves and our objectives on winning as many games as we can and hoping that anyone above us slips up now and again.”
Midfielder Nemanja Matic echoed his team mate’s sentiments and does not believe the title race is over despite last Sunday’s Manchester derby defeat.
”The gap is big, obviously 11 points is a lot, but the league is not finished,“ Matic told Sky Sports. ”I‘m sure there will be very interesting games until the end, and of course that they will drop some points. We will see what will happen.
”As I say there are still many games to play and I think that we are not out of the title race. If we want to catch them, we have to win almost every game.
“But as we know, and as everyone knows, in the Premier League it is not always possible to win every game, but we will try to do that.”
Fellow midfielder Paul Pogba will serve the second of his three-match suspension during Sunday’s game at the Hawthorns and Matic said United were hindered by the Frenchman’s absence.
“He’s a very important player for us, he always brings some extra quality to our team. So of course we miss him, but we also have some very important players to substitute him,” Matic said.
“Obviously when he comes back, for sure we are going to be stronger because as you know he has a lot of quality and he is very important to the club.”
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly