Chris Sutton predicts where Man United will finish this season

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And Martin Dubravka has already shone between the sticks, keeping a clean-sheet in Sunday's 1-0 win against Manchester United and generally looking like a complete, all-round goalkeeper.

United failed to match the intensity of the home side throughout the 90 minutes especially in defence, with the likes of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones failing to cover themselves in glory throughout. In the last few minutes, we were trying to defend and play on the counter-attack, and we did that, more or less, well.

"I saw that in my team after the 1-0, I saw the desire to play and try to go to the last second, which we did, but I can imagine Benitez will be more than pleased with the effort of his players".

"I don't think they were at it from the start of the game - a lot of their players went missing", the skipper stated. "It was probably the way we were playing, we made them play like that." .

"If we understand that and we are behind the players, they can perform like today".

Asked what it was like to play against Jose Mourinho's star-studded side, 24-year-old Perez added: "Really tough, to be honest".

"In the first half they were making a lot of mistakes, passing the ball around but it was down to our pressing", the defender proclaimed. "The manager got it spot on".

The bottom half of the Premier League table is still extremely tight, with just six points separating the teams in tenth and 19th position, but having proved their mettle against a Manchester United side who remain in second, Benitez is hoping his players use yesterday's success to drive them on in their final 11 matches.

"The truth is, after losing an away game", he said. That is important when you have a lot of big games.

The 26-year-old left-back, who joined the club at the age of nine, has been a fixture in Rafael Benitez's side since returning to action in December from a hamstring injury suffered during the opening game of the current season.

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