Has Juan Mata done enough to warrant a place in Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side? 0

Shikharr Chandra reviews Juan Mata’s performance for Chelsea yesterday, and questions whether the Spaniard did enough to keep his place in the side’s upcoming fixtures…

Juan Mata has been in the news over the past few weeks not for his performances but the rumors surrounding him and his exit from Chelsea in the January window. The two times Chelsea player of the year has found life hard under new manager Jose Mourinho who has been un-impressed with the Spaniard’s work rate this season.

Mata returned to the starting line-up after spending most of the last month on the substitute’s bench. The Spaniard who was making his ninth start to the season and only his 12th appearance under Mourinho knew he had to prove a point to the Portuguese manager if he needed a more consistent run in the squad.

There were questions being raised as to whether this would be the right game for Mata to make his comeback. Given Southampton’s high-pressing game under Mauricio Pochettino, and the Spaniard’s inability to track back and provide defensive-cover, he was always going to be questioned when the Saints moved forward.

Mata started on the right of the three-man midfield alongside Eden Hazard and Oscar, with Fernando Torres upfront. Starting as the right winger meant the Spaniard had to bear responsibility for Luke Shaw, who is one of the most progressive full-backs in the League. Despite an injury to Oscar early on in the game, Jose Mourinho kept Mata on the right side of the midfield opting to send Frank Lampard and alter his tactics to a more 4-4-2.

A change in formation by Mourinho did not allow Southampton to play their usual game. The Saints were not allowed to keep the ball and play with the high tempo they usually play with. There was no pressing involved as well which allowed Mata more freedom and space to express himself in the game.

The Spaniard lasted the whole 90 minutes for the second time this season and was involved in two out of the three goals scored by the Blues. He made five chances in the game, more than Southampton managed cumulatively, and his 72 touches were the second-highest of the game behind Cesar Azoilicueta’s 78.

“It was good, in the second half he gave us what we needed, I needed him to come inside and be a bit of a winger and come inside and connect with the attacking players, he did that well.

We also needed him to control Luke Shaw because the kid goes forward, and he was also a big support to Ivanovic, so his performance was good.”

Jose Mourinho

Mata’s work-rate was well appreciated by everyone at Stamford Bridge and even though there was a moment of displeasure shown by Mourinho when the Spaniard made a poor decision to cross, on the whole the Portuguese seemed impressed with what he saw.

Chelsea next travel to relegation strugglers Sunderland and one would expect that after such a performance Mata has done enough to start the game against the Black Cats.

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