Juan Mata is confident we can make the current campaign one to remember for all the right reasons as we look to secure qualification for the Champions League while also winning the Europa League.
Sunday’s win at Manchester United leaves us in a healthy position with regards to finishing in the top four, and three points against Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday will ensure we are competing against Europe’s best once again.
Mata, who scored the only goal of the game at Old Trafford, sees similarities with a year ago.
‘Last season was also tough but at the end we managed to make it one of the best in the club’s history,’ he said.
‘Unfortunately we are not in the FA Cup final, we lost in the semi-final, but we are in the Europa League final and if we can win that and finish third – which is higher than last season – it will have been a great season.’
Since moving to England, Mata has enjoyed games against Tottenham, turning in an impressive display in last season’s 5-1 FA Cup semi-final win, while playing a starring role – and scoring a brace – in our 4-2 victory at White Hart Lane back in October.
With so much at stake, he expects a tough game on Wednesday, and singled out one player in particular we will need to keep a close eye on.
‘Tottenham are a team who keep on winning and putting pressure on us, like Arsenal, but we are playing at home and if we win we will almost certainly be in the Champions League,’ he said.
‘Mentally you are always focused. I am already thinking about the Tottenham game now, but we don’t have much time to rest so it’s tougher mentally.
‘Right now Gareth Bale is one of the best footballers in the world. Not just in England, not just in Europe, in the world. He is able to decide a game on his own, as he did against Southampton. He has the pace, he has the strength and he is young.
‘There are no excuses, 90 minutes will be like a final for them and us, we are fighting for the same achievement and if we win we will be very proud.’