Friday 21 October 2016

Mata: This night will be special

United midfielder lokking forward to emotional occasion

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata celebrates scoring the winner against Norwich last Saturday. Photo: PA
Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata celebrates scoring the winner against Norwich last Saturday. Photo: PA

Juan Mata is looking forward to playing his part in West Ham's farewell to Upton Park - a place the Manchester United man says "breathes English football".

Louis van Gaal takes his United side to face the Hammers on Tuesday night in what will be the last-ever official game at Upton Park before their summer relocation into the Olympic Stadium.


While it will be an emotional night for all those involved with West Ham, United go there knowing that victories in their final two league games will guarantee them a place in the Premier League top four and a Champions League spot for next season.

Last month, United won the last-ever FA Cup match to be played at Upton Park, with a 2-1 sixth-round replay win setting them up for a semi-final victory over Everton which now leaves them a May 21 final date against Crystal Palace.

But this time the emotions will run even higher, and Mata - who scored the only goal in Saturday's gritty win at lowly Norwich - knows it will be no ordinary night in east London.

"It's going to be special," he wrote in his weekly blog.

"The last official game at the Boleyn Ground, where West Ham has been playing for 112 years.

"With that image of Bobby Moore, it's a place that breathes English football... it will be an honour to be there and try to get the last win.

"West Ham has been a tough opponent this season. We know them well because we've played against them in the FA Cup too. They are in the seventh position by a combination of effort and talent, not by chance.

"It (the win at Norwich) was a very important win to keep us in the fight for the Champions League, even more after the draw between (Manchester) City and Arsenal."

Jesse Lingard echoed the comments of Mata and insisted United will let nothing get to them as they know a victory is required to keep their top-four destiny in their own hands.

"These are the games as a player you want to play in, the big-pressure games. We're ready. We've been training hard," he told MUTV.

"Mentally, you've got to prepare for that (the attention around Upton Park) and we know there will be a great atmosphere. But we won't let anything faze us on the day because we have a job to do, which is to get the three points."

It remains to be seen if Van Gaal will rest any players, having given Daley Blind and Marcus Rashford the day off on Saturday.

The Dutchman will also be sweating on the fitness of Anthony Martial, who was not risked at Carrow Road as a precaution after injuring himself in the warm-up.

West Ham v Manchester United, tonight, live sky sports 1 (KO 7.45)

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