Appreciating Juan Mata

Yes. Yes it is. - Angel Martinez

Juan Mata is really, really good. Although it all came to pretty-much-naught in the end, Wednesday's 2-2 draw against Reading featured more excellence from Chelsea's creative heart. He grabbed the opening goal and got the assist on the second when his corner kick found Frank Lampard's head. That brought his tally up to 15 goals scored and 19 assists made in all competitions this season. Including the Super Cup and the Community Shield, he's started in 34 games.

In case those numbers don't mean much to you, I went through Soccernet's numbers* to look at the domestic career highs for other famous attacking midfielders. Here goes:

  • Mesut Ozil: 9 G, 29 starts (2009/10); 24 A, 39 starts (2010/11)
  • David Silva: 10 G, 33 starts (2009/10); 19 A, 47 starts (2011/12)
  • Santi Cazorla: 8 G, 26 starts (2008/09); 13 A, 46 starts (2010/11)
  • Shinji Kagawa: 17 G, 38 starts (2011/12); 10 A, 38 starts (2011/12)
  • Marco Reus: 21 G, 37 starts (2011/12); 10 A, 37 starts (2011.12)

*Which may or may not be comprehensive, because Soccernet. Consider this the abovefor illustrative purposes only.

In other words, in 2/3rds of a season, Mata has done enough to put himself in the same conversation as the career highs of some of the world's premiere number tens. He's contributed to 34 goals this season, and he's not done yet. It's ridiculous that he isn't talked about as a reasonable candidate for the Premier League's best player, because his form this season has been absolutely outstanding.

Chelsea's 4-2-3-1 doesn't suit many of the players on the squad, but it does suit Mata, and he's rewarded us with some truly incredible play. In a season in which not much has gone right, we should spend more time enjoying him. Johnny Kills is awesome.


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