Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal believes his side’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Arsenal on Monday night has left a lingering effect on his players ahead of their crucial Premier League game with Tottenham on Sunday.
Despite winning five of their last seven games, United have come under pressure for their laboured, under-par performances in recent weeks, culminating in the Arsenal loss at Old Trafford.
Even so, they are fourth with ten games left of the season and Van Gaal believes every game will be crucial in the battle for Champions League qualification,
“Every game is very important because they each have an influence on the next game,” the Dutchman told MUTV.
“The game against Arsenal has an influence on the match against Tottenham but we have to keep the fighting spirit and be more effective in finishing our chances.
“The players have reacted fantastically in training. I cannot speak more highly about their professional attitude – they are willing to do everything.”
The 13-time Premier League champions currently sit three points and two places ahead of Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side, and both sides have taken 16 points from their previous seven games.
However, Tottenham have won on their last two league visits to Old Trafford and boast English football’s form striker in the shape of Harry Kane.
In contrast Van Gaal is without Robin van Persie and has moved Wayne Rooney upfront again as Radamel Falcao continues to struggle during his year-long loan.
The Colombian has scored four times in 21 appearances and was made to play for the under-21 side in midweek.
It has been a dramatic fall for the former Atletico Madrid striker who was one of Europe’s most frightening forwards before suffering an ACL injury last January.
But, Van Gaal was quick to come to Falcao’s defence amid media ridicule of the forward’s form.
“I have read in a lot of papers that it is a humiliation but I don’t think so,” added the former Barcelona boss.
“It is a professional attitude of the management and the club but especially from the player. It wasn’t just Falcao, Victor Valdes and Rafael da Silva also played.
“Rafael played a very good match and scored a wonderful goal and because of that he can grip again his confidence.”
Sunday’s game could be decisive in the race for fourth – a United victory would leave them six points ahead of Tottenham with just nine games remaining.
On the other hand a third straight Old Trafford victory for Spurs would see them draw level on points with United, and ramp up the pressure on the Dutch manager in his first season.
Main image courtesy of RTV via YouTube, with thanks.