November 14, 2017 / 5:44 AM / 3 months ago

Manchester United 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.

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.

FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Champions League - Manchester United vs S.L. Benfica - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - October 31, 2017 Manchester United's Juan Mata in action with Benfica's Jardel as smoke hangs in the air after flares were set off in the stand. REUTERS/Darren Staples

“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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