Last season the likes of Oscar, Hazard and Mata picked themselves for Chelsea, and the three musketeers deservedly received lavish praise for some quite outstanding performances.
For all that, it became a bit of a surprise when not one, but two, fellow attacking midfielders were added to Chelsea’s attacking ranks during the summer. One of those, of course, was Tottenham target Willian.
Willian has taken his fair share of flak over the last couple of months, but his recent performances have been impressive and have gone some way to justify his rather mystifying transfer.
Mata, on the other hand, has failed to live up to last season’s high standards and his performance against Crystal Palace again failed to impress Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who substituted his number 10 after the hour mark.
Here is how the two compared during today’s game:
Willian, from a wider position, managed a credible 73 touches, 56 passes with a 91% success rate and an impressive 3 shots with 2 testing Speroni in the Crystal Palace net.
Juan Mata, from a more central position, had only 66 touches (only Cech and Torres managed less), making 53 passes and failing to register a single shot on target. Additionally he was dispossessed on one occasion when Chelsea were breaking forward, leaving his defenders facing a dangerous counter attack.
Mourinho acknowledged his Chelsea side had to thank goalkeeper Peter Cech, and once again aimed a firing shot at his misfiring front men: 'It was tense. It could have been 4-1 or 5-1, but it could have been 2-2. This is tense because when you miss chances to kill the opponent, when you're not in the best moment of your game and when you're in trouble, you fear the opponent can punish you.
'We created a lot of chances but did not kill off the game and the opponents can score'.
With Willian now getting to grips with the Premier League, he can possibly find himself more involved in the first team. The repercussions of this, however, will mean possibly less game time for Chelsea’s other attacking starlets, and a continuation of Mata’s average performances could see him pushed further out of Mourinho’s future plans.
What did you make of Willian and Mata’s performance ?
image: © Wshjackson