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Manchester United weren't consistent enough - Mata

Juan Mata says Manchester United weren't consistent enough to qualify for the Champions League Credit: AP

Juan Mata admits Manchester United go into their rearranged final Barclays Premier League game with a bad taste in their mouths after missing out on a top four spot.

United needed neighbours City to lose their last game at Swansea on Sunday to have any hope of claiming a spot in the Champions League.

But City drew 1-1 at the Liberty Stadium meaning that, barring a improbable 19-0 win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Tuesday, United will have to make do with a place in the Europa League and Mata says the Red Devils didn't show enough consistency to warrant qualification for the UEFA Champions League.

They could still climb above Southampton from sixth to fifth but the players' attention may already been turning to Saturday's FA Cup final against Crystal Palace.

Writing on his blog on the club website, Mata highlighted injuries faced by the squad as one of the reasons for the lack of success this season.

We will have to close the Premier League season on Tuesday. It's going to be a bittersweet farewell to Old Trafford, now that we know we won't be playing the Champions League next season.

It leaves us with a bad taste because, even if we enjoyed good moments together throughout the season, we weren't consistent enough to qualify for the top European competition.

It's true that we found many difficulties along the way, especially if we talk about injuries (up to 15 players in several weeks, as far as I remember), but Manchester United must be ambitious and always fight for everything.

– Juan Mata

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England retain four Champions League teams

England will retain four Champions League places until at least the end of the 2017-18 season, European governing body UEFA has confirmed.

The Premier League had faced a challenge from Italy - which currently has only three spots - as a result of a fall in its rating in UEFA's coefficient system.

Leicester are almost certain to be playing Champions League football next season. Credit: PA

But the progress of Manchester City and Liverpool to the quarter-finals of this season's Champions League and Europa League respectively, while Roma, Juventus and Lazio have all been eliminated from European competition, has reversed the situation.

UEFA awards four Champions League places to the top three nations in its rankings. These allocations are determined a year in advance, meaning those for 2016-17 were set by the ratings at the end of the 2014-15 season. The countries in possession at this point were Spain, England and Germany.

However, the system is run on a rolling five-year basis and so for the 2017-18 allocations, points accrued during 2010-11 - which was strong for England and poor for Italy - were discounted from the reckoning. This saw England drop to third behind Germany, just three points ahead of Italy.

England's clubs therefore needed a better 2015-16 campaign than Italy to ensure four places would be retained. With all Serie A sides now out, this has been achieved.

Zlatan not seeking revenge against Chelsea

PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Credit: PA

Paris St Germain talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic has warned Chelsea he is better than ever ahead of a return to Stamford Bridge, but denied being eager for "revenge".

The 34-year-old Sweden striker was sent off in the first half of last season's second leg between the clubs, which saw PSG progress to the quarter-finals on away goals.

Ibrahimovic afterwards called Chelsea players "babies" for their role in his dismissal, believing Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers had been hounded into the decision for a clumsy challenge on Oscar.

"From the last game here I never saw something like that before from mature players like that," Ibrahimovic said.

"It's a new game, let's play different. I never think about revenge and these things.

"Hopefully I will stay on the pitch longer than the last time to have a possibility to do things I'm good at. (But) revenge, absolutely not. What happened in the past happened in the past."

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Arsenal midfielder Wilshere hopeful of comeback against Barcelona in Nou Camp

Jack Wilshere. Credit: PA

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is hoping he has a chance of facing Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League clash on March 16.

The Gunners take on Barca at the Emirates Stadium in the first leg on Tuesday night, and with Arsene Wenger claiming Wilshere is "three or four weeks" away from a return from a broken leg, he may yet play a part at the Nou Camp.

Wilshere told BT Sport: "It is possible, I mean it's difficult to get back.

"The Premier League gets quicker and quicker and I know I'm not old but I'm different from when I was 19, it takes a little bit more time.

"But I'm training and running and hopefully I will be back.

"I'm not sure how long it's going to take because I've only been doing ball work for about a week. I probably need a game in the under-21s and I'll be ready."

Starting line-ups: PSG v Chelsea

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