HEAD-TO-HEAD: Chelsea's Fabregas v Manchester United's Mata

A look at where Manchester United and Chelsea stars are differing in their play.

Cesc V Mata

Spain international teammates Cesc Fabregas and Juan Mata have seen their sides enjoy very different starts to the season.

Chelsea star Fabregas is excelling for his new side, helping them to two wins out of two, while Mata's Manchester United have just one point from their opening two games.

Fabregas has racked up three assists during his 180 minutes of football, while Mata has none. So what's the difference?

The figures above go some way to explaining it. Fabregas, despite his reputation for being a deeper lying midfielder - has made 51 passes in the final third of the pitch, compared to Mata's 30.

There is an even bigger gap in the number of forward passes played. Perhaps this is to be expected considering Mata plays further forward, yet unlike Cesc, he plays more passes backwards than he does towards goal.

Former United star Dwight Yorke has suggested the addition of Angel di Maria will help bring the best out of Mata by giving him more space to do damage.

He told SkySports: "Di Maria will go past people, take the ball 20 yards up the pitch and create space for Mata, who at the moment gets quite stifled."

That is a key difference and advantage Fabregas has. Eden Hazard's pace helps distract defenders and create opportunities for him to make key passes, yet Mata also has to look at his own game and be more direct.

He failed to link up effectively with Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney at all against Sunderland, and that's just not what is expected from the club's first choice playmaker.

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