Falling short of home wins and losing records this season, Manchester United are looking to end the season as strong as possible to recuperate confidence and faith amongst the fans for next seasons plans.
Early December 2013, Manchester United found themselves losing 1-0 to Newcastle at Old Trafford. An unusual result, which meant that the game this weekend had a little more meaning to it, and by the Red Devils performance you could see their intensions from the first whistle. Juan Mata certainly took his opportunity to get in the limelight with Van Persie and Rooney out. After eventually getting his first goal for United last weekend, confidence was oozing from the Spaniard as he welcomed his new free flowing role in the Manchester United’s final third.
When talking about Juan Mata usually the first stand out point to make is his creativity however, managing to score twice in 90 minutes, this meant that he had 100% chance conversion proving how clinical the number 8 can be when given the freedom. The first of the two a beautiful, inch perfect free-kick 20 yards from goal. The diminutive Spaniard managed to lift the ball over the wall and then got it to come back down into the top right-hand corner.
The second, coming 5 minutes after half-time kick off, was also impressive as Mata got on the end of a cut back pass from Hernandez, where he then anticipated the Newcastle defenders block, faking past the sliding defender he then calmly and complacently slotted the ball into the bottom corner demonstrating his attractive footwork and football intelligence into one.
Emphasising his effectiveness in the final third, Mata assisted the final goal when he back heeled within the oppositions box. However in terms of creativeness the Spaniard wasn’t at his best as although he found himself in the right positions on the pitch to get the crosses, the ball in itself was never right, failing to succeed in any of his 6 crosses resulting in a 0% crossing accuracy which is unusual on his stats sheet.
Having the most touches on the ball out of anyone on the pitch (89) you can obviously see Mata played such an influential part albeit he was dispossessed 5 times and lost possession a total of 22 times, also the highest in these categories out of anyone on the pitch. To counter-act these disappointing figures, he recovered the ball 5 times within the 90 minutes demonstrating how Manchester United have been working on Mata’s supposed poor team ethic that Mourinho labelled the midfielder to have.
Juan Mata expressed his happiness after the game to be linking and playing with Shinji Kagawa, something that Man United fans have been longing for. This could hopefully lead to a partnership which could create selection problems for David Moyes when Van Persie and Rooney return, and fingers crossed more performances like this will help Mata to prove his heavy price tag.