Juan Manuel Mata Garicia, Chelsea’s resilient mid-fielder, played his 60th game of the season against Manchester United last Sunday and ended up scoring the solitary goal of the game in the dying minutes to boost Chelsea’s chances of a top four finish this season. He was awarded the Man of the Match too and rightly so, for his influence was well visible on the pitch and had it not been some scrappy finishing from other Chelsea players, he could have ended up with a few more assists as well to add to his tally of 34 in the season across all competitions.
The Chelsea number 10 has been an epitome of the club’s toughness this season and has often carried the team’s fortunes and seen them in and out of adversities. He has also been a work horse this season and will continue to be Chelsea’s fulcrum in their bid for greater consistency and success in the upcoming seasons. It is indeed a testament to his fitness and form that he has played in all the competitions this season and has been one of Rafa Benitez’s strongest performers. Also the current premier league leader in Assists, Mata continues to impress in every game he plays and he has firmly established himself at Stamford Bridge.Next Frank Lampard?
Mata might still be a long way from emulating the achievements of the legendary Frank Lampard but he is certainly going in the right direction. He is the second leading goal scorer this season for Chelsea, behind none other than Lampard! Comparing their performances this season so far, we can observe similarities in almost all the categories which show that his style of play is closer to Lampard’s and infact better in some ways!
|Shots on Goal||35||28|
|Shots on Goal %||48.6||45.2|
Table 1-Lampard vs Mata stat comparison – Premier League
Mata has way more assists than Lampard indicating the level of his influence on his teammates’ performances as well. Lampard might have scored more goals in a lesser number of games and minutes but Mata’s greater number assists more than compensate for this. Mata also suffers more fouls than Lampard and the average number of minutes per foul suffered by him is also lesser – a direct result of his greater presence and attacking and aggressive play near the goal. In fact it is this aggressiveness of Mata which also leads to more offsides for him. Mata also crosses the ball significantly more, (a dimension that is not so prominent in the way Lampard usually plays) another flexible aspect of his repertoire.
He continues to impress with his strength and agility and Chelsea’s resurgence this season could be hugely attributed to the Spaniard. His success with the club has also contributed to regular call ups from Del Bosque to the national side and continued success there are well. With such significant performances for Chelsea, Mata could be on his way to surpass Lampard and make a name for himself among the club’s faithful and there could also come a day when the next Mata would be searched for among the future generations of players! In my opinion, he is the player of the season for the Blues.