MANCHESTER: Ashley Young believes Juan Mata's arrival has taken competition for places to another level at Manchester United as the English champions prepare to visit Stoke.
Mata, who joined from Premier League rivals Chelsea for £37.1 million earlier this month, made his debut for United in the 2-0 win over Cardiff on Tuesday.
That match saw Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney return from injury lay-offs, and both will be in contention for a place at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
It would mean United's star strikers starting together for just the eighth time in 24 Premier League matches this season. The availability of the three players means other places in the front four are sure to be squeezed.
England winger Young, who will be battling with Adnan Januzaj, Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck for the last spot in manager David Moyes's strongest side, said, "You have to be on the ball. You have to put in big performances every week. We have a big squad and we can rotate the team.
"When you are playing well, getting goals and assists, you are there in the manager's thoughts," added the 28-year-old, who scored United's second goal against Cardiff following Dutch striker Van Persie's sixth-minute opener at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
"We have competition for places and that keeps you on your toes. You want to keep playing well and training well, because that is the only way to keep yourself in the team.
"Robin is a goal-scorer. You put him in the box and he will score, and he has done that again.
"There will be a lot of talk about Juan's arrival and the fact that we have broken the transfer record for him, but he looks like he has been here for years.
"It was his first game but he has gelled straight away with the way we play. He is going to add something special to the squad."
‘There’s no panicking around the club’
United's latest trip to the Britannia Stadium comes with Stoke just three points above the relegation zone after a midweek 1-0 loss to Sunderland.
The Potters have lost their last three matches, all by a 1-0 scoreline, and face a difficult schedule with games against United and Manchester City in the weeks ahead.
But Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic said: "It's so tight but there's no panicking around the club.
"The manager [Hughes] is dealing really well with it. He's praised everyone and just wants us to keep our heads up."
Newcastle v Sunderland
West Ham v Swansea
Cardiff v Norwich
Everton v Aston Villa
Fulham v Soton
Hull v Tottenham
Stoke v Man Utd
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