Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata admitted his teammates were furious after dropping two points at Leicester City, but he hopes they can channel that frustration into a strong response against Burnley today.
Jose Mourinho’s side were stunned by a late goal from 10-man Leicester in a 2-2 draw that saw United fall a staggering 13 points behind leaders Manchester City at the halfway stage of the campaign.
Mourinho angrily spoke of missing “joke chances” and “childish” errors by his players after Saturday’s draw, but Mata, who scored both United goals in an excellent personal display, hopes the side responds positively to the frustration of the evening at the King Power Stadium.
“You have to keep going. It’s Christmas time, you play every two or three days, obviously,” Mata said. “Now we feel frustrated and angry, but we need to keep going and, from tomorrow, rest and think about the next game, and have the will of finishing the next game with a much better feeling. We got a point, but it feels like a defeat because we were so close to winning, had chances to kill the game and they were with one less player.”
Mata put United 2-1 ahead with a superb free-kick and revealed afterward that his goal celebration was a dedication to Indian children with whom his charitable foundation Common Goal works.
“It was because when the kids from the Oscar Foundation — one of the foundations we work with — came to Old Trafford to visit me they asked if I could do this kind of namaste celebration for them,” Mata said. “The first goal I didn’t do it because we needed a second goal, but for the second goal I thought of them and it was dedicated for those kids in the slums of Mumbai.”
Mourinho might feel less charitable when it comes to selecting his team for the visit of Sean Dyche’s side, although injuries are limiting his options at Old Trafford.
Eric Bailly is a long-term absentee, while Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia and Marouane Fellaini have been ruled out of all of the holiday games.
Matteo Darmian missed the Leicester game, while centerback Chris Smalling was hampered by a late injury.
At least United have history on their side in the Boxing Day fixture, having not lost at home to Burnley since September 1962, a sequence of eight wins and five draws, and United’s run of 19 wins from the 23 Boxing Day games they have played in the Premier League era is a record for the division.
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