Juan Mata at his restaurant in Manchester

Mata surprised by his United record

Juan Mata was surprised to learn that he could move into Manchester United's top 100 appearance-makers if he features against Crystal Palace this weekend.

The Spaniard could make his 200th appearance for the Reds when the Eagles visit Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday (kick-off 15:00 GMT). 

When United Review, the club's official matchday programme, mentioned to him that he could join an exclusive group of United legends in terms of appearances for the club, Juan expressed his surprise, as well as delight. 

“The top 100? I didn’t know that! Of course it’s always great when you can play such a good amount of games for such a big club,” he said. “I feel very happy and very proud and hopefully I can play many more games.” 

Mata is set to move to 98th in United's all-time appearances chart, above Remi Moses, Paul McGrath and Jack Mew. This is where he stands in comparison to current United players..

Place in
appearance charts
Name  No. of appearances 
 48  Antonio Valencia  335
 49  David De Gea  330
 57  Chris Smalling  302
 90  Ashley Young  212
 101  Juan Mata  199

Since arriving from Chelsea in January 2014, Mata has netted 42 goals and registered 34 assists for United. He has also won three major trophies to date - the Emirates FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League.

“What I can tell you is, out of the 200 games, I have felt very proud in all games and I have tried to give my best in all the matches and that’s something that I will always be able to say,” Juan said.

'CRYSTAL PALACE DESERVE RESPECT' 

Our no.8 knows what it's like to score against Saturday's opponents Palace - he's netted four goals in nine previous games for United against the South London outfit. 

He opened the scoring in last season's corresponding fixture with a fine finish which set the tone for a comfortable 4-0 win for the Reds. Among his other goals against Palace was the crucial equaliser in our FA Cup final victory over the Eagles in 2016 at Wembley Stadium. 

Juan Mata at Tapeo & Wine restaurant in Manchester.
We caught up with Juan at his dad's restaurant, Tapeo & Wine, in Manchester city centre... well worth a visit!

Roy Hodgson's men are struggling in the bottom half of the table and have won just two of their 12 league games so far this season, but Juan feels they are a tough team to play against and deserve respect. 

“I think of them [Crystal Palace] as a very physical team,” he added. “They have very strong players in defence and very quick and powerful players in attack. They are a difficult team and even though they haven’t had a great run of results, it’s very difficult to play against them in their home.

”When they play away also because they defend quite compact and they go for the counter-attack, so we need to be ready for that and we need to know what we’re going to face. We need to try to score, try to win and try to enjoy it. Obviously, we're always respecting the opponent, and Crystal Palace deserves that respect.

Catch the full interview with Juan in Saturday’s edition of United Review, which is available to buy at Old Trafford or online

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