Mata expecting top four challenge

Manchester United
Manchester United's Juan Mata has heaped praise on Paul Pogba after describing him as a 'positive influence'.

With the likes of Leicester being thrown into the mix, Manchester United’s Juan Mata says it will be tougher than ever for his side to finish in the top four.

Having played just eight games, the pressure is already mounting on United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his side at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils, who secured a 4-0 win over Chelsea in their opening game of the Premier League season, find themselves down in 12th place in the table and just two points off the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Leicester have enjoyed a resurgence under manager Brendan Rodgers and are impressing in fourth place in the table, with five points between themselves and United.

Mata has admitted he has been impressed by the Foxes and feels his Red Devils side will have to work harder than ever if they are to finish in the top four this term.

“I think every club is improving and clubs like Leicester are recruiting really well and they have very good players that can take them to a different level,” the former Valencia and Chelsea star told Sky Sports. “Not long ago [Leicester] won the Premier League so they know what it takes to win.

“Football is more difficult now because every club is growing a lot so it’s more competitive and every club is able to sign good players. So you have to be better every single season to try and reach your aims.”

Things don’t get much easier for Manchester United in their quest to reach the top four, as following the international break, they host Premier League frontrunners, Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp’s side will take a perfect winning record to Old Trafford on October 20, while United will be looking to spoil that run which has taken Liverpool eight points clear at the top of the table.