Chelsea must be regretting their decision of letting their Serbian midfielder go to Benfica back in 2011, because now Nemanja Matic is a crucial part of their midfield, breaking up play, reading the game and with the ability of picking a pass, the ex-Benfica player is the complete midfielder Jose Mourinho desperately needed.
It is estimated that Chelsea lost £17m on buying back Matic (arrived in January for £22m/€25m) – not smart business, but it was an acquisition that was required after their defeat to Sunderland in the Capital One Cup, where Chelsea’s midfield was non-existent, and there was no midfield enforcer to cover the defence.
After the game, Jose Mourinho stated he may need his side to revert to a pragmatic approach. While he said it’s something he didn’t want to do, the Portuguese manager stated he would rather win 1-0 and play counter-attacking football – claiming that he may have to take a step back in order to be more consistent at the back; four weeks later, Mourinho brought in that player to make his team more consistent at the back.
Despite leaving Chelsea in 2011, the Chelsea midfielder admits he was happy to leave Stamford Bridge years ago, stating moving to Benfica made him the complete player.
It’s hard to disagree with his statement of the Serbian international being the complete player.
In just eight Premier League appearances for the West London side, Matic has made his mark on Mourinho’s midfield.
Before signing the Serbian midfielder, Chelsea had conceded 19 goals in 21 Premier League games, since Mourinho has inserted Matic in his team, they have kept five clean sheets, conceding just three goals in eight games.
In those eight Premier League appearances Matic has made 21 interceptions, an impressive rate in such a short space of time.
Making his full Premier League debut at the Etihad didn’t seem to faze the Serbian, and he has took this momentum into his other Premier League games, accumulating excellent ground duel and aerial duel rates in his run of games, not that is high on his priorities.
His battle with Yaya Toure at the Etihad, which can be argued a battle he won when the whistle blew for full time, allowing Chelsea to dominate the City midfield for large periods of the game, ending in, for the first time in three years, a team in the Premier Leagye had kept a clean sheet at the Etihad for three years – resulting in a man of the match performance for Nemanja Matic.
Matic has won 57% of his 79 ground duels, and 61% of his 36 aerial duels – averaging 7 minutes per ground duel and 15.86 minutes per aerial duel; a stat any defensive minded midfielder craves.
While the 25-year old may need to work on his tackling, winning 73% of his total tackles in the Premier League.
The former Benfica man has become an integral part of a Mourinho side that is eager to win their first Premier League title since 2010, which would be Mourinho’s third Premier League title.