Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata has admitted that Louis van Gaal's side "must be more efficient" and create more chances following three consecutive goalless draws against Manchester City, Middlesbrough (which they eventually lost on penalties) and Crystal Palace.
The Spain international believes the Champions League home tie against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night (3 November) is a must-win game for the Premier League giants after they also were held to a 1-1 draw in their trip to Russia just two weeks ago, leaving them second in the group with the same points as CSKA and two behind leaders Wolfsburg.
"A week ago, after two draws, I was telling you here that we had to win again. Unfortunately, this Monday I keep longing for the same thing. After two more draws we are forced to win as soon as possible, starting with our next game in the Champions League," Mata wrote in his weekly blog at Kicca. "The first draw in the Capital One Cup was the worst one because it was followed by a defeat in the penalty shootout.
"Against Middlesbrough it was one of those games where the team visiting Old Trafford tries to defend well, obstruct our game and rely on any chance they may have to score. It worked well for them because they took the game to penalties and they were better than us in the shootout. We had some chances, especially in the last few minutes, but we know we must be more efficient and accurate when making and finishing our plays."
Paul Scholes was very critical of van Gaal last week, claiming that his killjoy defensive approach was to blame for the side's goal drought and the poor scoring form of Wayne Rooney. The Dutch boss responded to the United legend in his press conference ahead of the match, but his side failed to match his words on Saturday (31 October) with another disappointing goalless draw at Selhurst Park.
Mata admits that United "weren't able to create good chances" and will need to address that in home games against West Brom and particularly CSKA, as the Champions League encounter is crucial if they are to top the group.
"The draw in the Premier League against Crystal Palace was different. They are a team that knows how to play their cards. They pressed well at the start to complicate our moves, and they created some chances, especially in the first few minutes. My feeling was that, after a difficult start, we were getting more and more into the game, finding spaces between the lines and controlling it by half time," he wrote. "Yet at the start of the second half they pressed well again and played long balls that put us in some trouble. We weren't able to create good chances. We need to get better in that aspect of the game because I think we have the players to do that. I'm sure that the goals will come soon and, with them, the good results.
"Now it's time to keep training and getting ready for the upcoming fixtures. The calendar is full. We have two consecutive games at Old Trafford and the one this Tuesday is almost a final. The stats say that Manchester United have never defeated a Russian team at home, so it's time for that first victory. CSKA have the same points as us, therefore it is vital to win if we want to top our group. With the support of our fans we hope to enjoy another great Champions League night in the Theatre of Dreams."