Manchester United were back to winning ways in the Premier League with a thumping victory over the reigning champions of the Premier League this weekend. Goals from Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Chris Smalling and Paul Pogba gave the Red Devils a well-earned victory against a Claudio Ranieri side that looked a shadow of the side that lifted the title a few months ago.
There were a number of changes in Jose Mourinho’s squad with the likes of Ander Herrera and Juan Mata given rare starts in the new season. The club captain Wayne Rooney was on the bench for this game and one Juan Mata took full advantage of his chance this weekend. He was close to unplayable on the night finding pockets of space around the penalty area and keeping the Leicester defense pinned back for most of the game.
The Spaniard was once a player who had no place in a Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side and was deemed excess to requirements at one of the biggest clubs in England has changed into a really influential player. Deployed on the right side under Louis van Gaal, Mata got used to being a poacher from the flank as he did in big games against Liverpool and Manchester City last season. However, he was used in a more central role against the Foxes, replacing Wayne Rooney, and was so impressive that the club captain may not find a place in the squad for the next few games. The Spaniard linked up beautifully with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack and Paul Pogba the midfield as he pulled the strings in a dangerous area of the field.
He was smart with his finish to pick up his goal and showed his range by setting up young Rashford just minutes later, changing the whole complexion of the game just before halftime. At 28, he is an experienced player who will walk into most top-class sides in the league. He is not a typical playmaker who will find defense splitting passes.
He loves to be patient and break defenses up, even the best of them, and thrives when controlling the game around the penalty area. His slick passing in and around the box with his teammates opened the visitors up on more than one occasion and he has now become an important player for Jose Mourinho at his new club.
A stat that is round the rounds today shows that Manchester United have lost both matches that he was not a part of, which has almost made him undroppable. Wink, wink. It will be hard to replace the club captain but Jose Mourinho will know that the Spaniard has provided a lot more to the squad than Rooney and should not hesitate to keep him in the starting lineup for the next few games.
Mata is an experienced campaigner who can grow into the playmaker, a Jose Mourinho side needs, and if the Portuguese manager can give him an extended run in the side, he may just be the man who will take them to the top of the list in the league. Do you think Mourinho can afford to drop Juan Mata for their next game this week?