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Juan Mata debuted for Manchester United against Cardiff on Tuesday. Jon Super / AP
Juan Mata debuted for Manchester United against Cardiff on Tuesday. Jon Super / AP

‘We just need to play our own game’ says Mata, looking at matchup with Stoke

The new arrival added that he thought playing with pace would help Manchester United top Stoke City on Saturday. 'If you try to play quickly, you can get chances to score and put yourself in a good position,' he said.

Juan Mata believes speed is the key to Manchester United getting three more valuable points from today’s trip to Stoke City.

United have already had one positive result at the Britannia Stadium this season, securing a victory in the League Cup in December when goals from Ashley Young and Patrice Evra clinched a 2-0 win.

Sadly for United, it just proved to be one of numerous false dawns during David Moyes’ debut campaign.

Mata’s £37.1 million (Dh224.3m) arrival from Chelsea is aimed at securing something rather more long term.

And, with Everton and Tottenham Hotspur both dropping points in midweek, the opportunity exists for United to claim a place in the top five this weekend.

Yet Mata knows beating Stoke cannot be taken for granted.

A 3-2 defeat for Chelsea at Stoke last month came on one of his rare Premier League starts for Jose Mourinho.

And, while Mata was part of a Chelsea team that romped to a four-goal success last term at Stoke, the 25 year old has been around long enough not to expect an easy time.

“It has always been difficult to play against Stoke,” he said.

“They like to play long balls and are a physical team but we just need to play our own game with the quality players we have.

“If you try to play quickly, you can get chances to score and put yourself in a good position.”

A raucous atmosphere is guaranteed from a sell-out crowd – not that Mata is too worried about the reception.

“The thing I like the most is to play,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me what the stadium is.”

With Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney back, United already look a different proposition to the team that limped into 2014 with three losses in January, going down in the league to Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, and then in the FA Cup third round to Swansea City.

However, defender Jonny Evans is not getting carried away.

“We can’t keep saying every time we get a win that it is going to kick start our season,” he said. “We will only be able to do that in maybe five games’ time.

“We need to make sure we keep performing like that.”

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