Juan Mata and Philippe Coutinho are two of the most creative players in the league on their day, but both have had inconsistent starts to the season for their respective teams. Mata hasn’t played consistently well since the start of last season, with the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and his move to Manchester United hindering his form. While Coutinho hasn’t been as effective as Liverpool have struggled to deal with the loss of Luis Suarez and the injury of Daniel Sturridge. They are both still young and have too much quality to not have an effect this season, the poor performances of their teams as a whole have certainly hindered their own ability to make things happen.
The Manchester United midfielder has started okay, considering he is in and out of the side, and his position has changed numerous times since the season started. He has scored three goals, including the winner against Crystal Palace at the weekend, while his shooting accuracy is 44% which isn’t bad for a midfielder. Mata has created ten chances, one of which led to an assist. On average, he creates a chance every 60.2 minutes. He would hope to improve on this as the season progresses. Impressively, he has a pass completion rate of 92%, showing his ability to maintain possession.
Meanwhile, Coutinho has suffered from the poor form of his club Liverpool, although he has shown glimpses in recent weeks that he is starting to find his form again. He only has one goal, but his shooting accuracy of 57% is superior to Mata, showing he is more likely to test the goalkeeper when given the chance, but his chance conversion is worse. Surprisingly Coutinho has only created five chances, with no assists. That is a chance created every 106.4 minutes, this is very poor for a player of the Brazilian’s ability. This may go some way to showing why Liverpool are failing to score goals, as the chances aren’t being created. His pass completion is also worse than Mata, coming in at 83% so far.
Coutinho is having a better season when it comes to beating players regularly, as seen in the Chelsea game with his excellent run, and he averages 3.72 successful take ons per game whilst Mata averages 0.75. Coutinho also reads the game better with a better interceptions rate of 0.68 per game to Mata’s 0.3.
It’s clear Mata has started better, especially when it comes to creating and scoring chances. This is surprising as many have questioned Mata being in the Manchester United side, however nobody seems to be drawing attention to the poor form of Coutinho, with the focus instead being on Mario Balotelli and Liverpool’s defence. A player who is creative as Coutinho should be providing more chances for the likes of Balotelli. Perhaps the attacking midfielder was made to look better by Suarez and Sturridge last season and he isn’t as good without quality forwards. He needs to improve in the coming weeks if he wants to prevent that opinion from forming.
Both sides have had poor starts, and players like Mata and Coutinho need to be playing in a side with confidence to play their best football. They have yet to perform at their best this season, although Mata is contributing more than Coutinho at the moment. The main difference between the two is that Mata is proven in the Premier League and has the medals to show his quality, both domestically and internationally. Coutinho is living off a season of excellent form with Liverpool, yet has failed to back it up in the opening months of this season. He needs to be more consistent if he is to get to the level of Juan Mata.