Football

Herrera: United close to hitting top gear

Spanish star says Red Devils will be in top form during the busy festive period

Manchester United are on the verge of hitting top gear, according to midfielder Ander Herrera.

Ahead of the Red Devils' final Champions League Group A match against CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford tomorrow morning (Singapore time), the Spaniard told the club website: "We are going to find our best moment very soon.

GROUP A
 MAN UNITED CSKA MOSCOW

"We are second and chasing to be top of the table. It was a fantastic result (the 3-1 win at Arsenal) with some great performances.

"David (de Gea) was amazing... Jesse (Lingard) is on fire now, Paul (Pogba) as well, it's a pity he got a red card. Romelu (Lukaku) didn't score but he helped us a lot. The centre backs - Victor (Lindelof) is in fantastic form right now. So we are optimistic, of course."

United have cause to be optimistic, they need just a draw to top the group and only a disastrous seven-goal defeat by CSKA will see them miss out on the Round of 16.

That has lead to many pundits looking ahead to Monday morning's Manchester Derby.

But United midfielder Juan Mata insists his teammates won't be looking that far ahead.

He told the club website: "I know that all of you have your mind on Sunday's derby, but before that we have to play the last group stage game in the Champions League, and it's a very important one.

"Right now all of our attention is on the game against CSKA Moscow - we would be making a big mistake otherwise."

United have never lost to a Russian club at Old Trafford and their record against Russian teams in Europe is impressive, with just one loss in 12 games.

Despite United's comfortable position, manager Jose Mourinho has said he will not field a weakened line-up against CSKA in anticipation of the visit of Manchester City.

He said before the win at Arsenal: "I would always try to play the best possible team, even if the Champions League match was a must-win."

CSKA have not lost in their last six matches, which include wins over Basel and Benfica.

The home win over the Portuguese champions a fortnight ago was historic for the club as long-time goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev kept a clean sheet for the first time in 44 Champions League matches. - WIRE SERVICES

EQUATION: Manchester United need just a point to secure top spot and will miss out on the Round of 16 only if they lose to CSKA Moscow by seven goals. Basel are tied on nine points with CSKA but have a superior head-to-head record. To qualify, they just need to equal CSKA's result when they take on Benfica. CSKA need to better Basel's result to qualify.

Football