STATS: Juan Mata emerges as Manchester United's most deadly finisher

Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie may lead Manchester United's scoring charts, but Juan Mata is the man making the most of opportunities which come his way.

Juan Mata grabbed his fifth Premier League goal of the season on Sunday as Manchester United overcame arch-rivals Liverpool 3-0 at Old Trafford.

Yes he was offside, and yes he could hardly miss once the ball arched his way six yards from goal.

Putting yourself in a position to trouble opponents is half of the battle, though, with the other half all about sticking the ball in the back of the net.

Mata sniffed out an opportunity as he ghosted in at the back post and kept his composure to nod past Brad Jones as the visiting Reds looked around in desperation for a flag or whistle which never arrived.

The Spaniard is proving to be quite the marksman this season, with his tally only one short of that managed in the entire 2013/14 campaign – when he split his time between Chelsea and United.

He has some way to go before getting close to the 12 top-flight efforts he managed back in 2012/13, but his conversation rate suggests that is an achievable target if opportunities continue to come.

  GoalsOntarget Scoring AttAppearancesMins Played
Robin van Persie 7 21 15 1,263
Wayne Rooney 6 10 12 1,037
Juan Mata 5 6 13 962

Mata’s five goals have come from just six efforts on target and have been spread across five games against Sunderland, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Liverpool.

The only fixture in which he troubled an opposing goalkeeper without managing to beat him was on the opening weekend, against Swansea City.

When comparing those statistics to United’s top marksmen, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, it is clear that he can be a useful source of ammunition for the Red Devils.

Rooney nets with just over half of his strikes on goal, while Van Persie converts one in every three.

It is vital that chances continue to fall their way as United look to fire themselves back into the Premier League title race, but the likes of Mata, Angel di Maria and Marouane Fellaini must help to carry the attacking burden if the Red Devils are to challenge for English football’s most prestigious domestic prize.

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