Juan Mata believes Manchester United are entering a potentially defining period in their season.
Jose Mourinho’s side host Newcastle on Saturday, to kickstart a crucial run of Premier League fixtures as they bid to reel in leaders and local rivals Manchester City.
United face Arsenal and City in early December, with Mata convinced the upcoming period could ultimately have a significant bearing on the title race.
“We returned to training with the mindset on the Newcastle match and the importance of the months that lie ahead,” said Mata.
“They come loaded with games, especially during the Christmas period.
“These are moments in which the good form of the team can be decisive for the second part of the season.”
On facing Newcastle, managed by Rafa Benitez, whom Mata played under at Chelsea, the United midfielder said: “Everyone knows they are newly-promoted but they are still a big club with several Spanish players.
“Rafa Benitez is a manager with whom I was lucky to work with in the past. It will be nice to see him again.
“We hope to play a good game that allows us to get all three points, and continue showing that strength in Old Trafford.”