Juan Mata has been an integral part of Chelsea’s play since he joined under Andre Villas Boas in the summer of 2011. His influence last season was instant, scoring on his debut against Norwich. He played a vital role in providing much needed creativity in a side which relied on defence towards the latter parts of the season. After the Euro’s and Olympics, Mata started the season looking jaded, but after a break from international duty and a rest from domestic football, Juan came back looking fresher and more creative than he has ever been. The statistics prove it, with his impact on this Chelsea side being even more influential than last season. Some would argue that Chelsea are now becoming reliant on the small Spaniard and when they rest him, they lose a lot of creativity and impetus that they would provide with him in the side. When Mata is omitted from the starting line up, Chelsea haven’t won a game.
As we can see from the statistics, those on the left being for the 11/12 season and those on the right being from the 12/13 season. Mata has provided 9 assists, an assist every 186 minutes, last season he has 13 assists, an assist every 194 minutes. He’s become more effective in providing goals for others and is creating clear-cut chances more effectively, creating a clear-cut chance in nearly half the time that it took him in the 11/12 season. It’s not his creativity and assists that have impressed the most though, remarkably. It’s his contribution to goals which have been extraordinary, already scoring 50% more goals than he did in the previous season, and there’s still a third of the season to go. Mata’s become more clinical in front of goal, which has been vital in games against Arsenal both home and away, which are only two examples of his goals affecting games. The addition of goals to his game has been vital for Chelsea, seeing as they have struggled with Fernando Torres as a striker. It is important for Chelsea to not rely on Mata too much, as he will need to rest and sit out games, Oscar and Eden Hazard have done well, however they have not matched Mata’s contribution, they therefore need to step up and become more active in their contribution. With the addition of Demba Ba in the side, Mata, within a central role can affect play and create more chances for a striker who is in better form than the much maligned Torres, the question is whether Chelsea can effectively compete without Mata in the side.