Johnny Kills Arsenal: He may not wear No. 11 on his back but Mata has picked up where Drogba left off

Michael Regan

Only three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and Drogba scoring versus Arsenal. Wait, better make that four things!

You'd be hard-pressed to find two players more different than Didier Drogba and Juan Mata.  Regardless of whether you're talking physical size and appearance, style of play, or even Chelsea career-timelines, they are comfortably sitting at opposite ends of the football spectrum.

Big and strong and checking out, slight and sly and checking in, together with the rest of Di Matteo's Chelsea, they brought us into Champions League heaven.  And that's not all, for they have another thing in common as well: they love scoring against Arsenal.*

* Mourinho meanwhile stays unbeaten vs. Wenger with five wins and four draws.

While at Chelsea, Drogba faced the Gunners a total of 14 times and scored 13 goals.  He especially loved Cup days, scoring five times in three Arsenal trophy chance-ending victories in the FA Cup ('09 semis), League Cup (07' final), and Community Shield ('05).  This past summer, he put the icing on the troll-cake by scoring twice for Galatasaray to deny Arsenal the Arsenal-trophy - and I don't mean fourth place in the league, but the Emirates Cup preseason tournament held at Arsenal's home ground.  Fifteen goals in fifteen appearances; Legend.  With a capital L.

Juan Mata, quietly as is his style, is off to a good start in trying to match Drogba's record.  His goal today effectively killed off any hope Arsenal had of League Cup glory for another year.  It was his fourth start against the team that came oh so close to signing him and he's now scored in each of those starts.  Overall, he has four goals in five appearances against the Gunners.  I guess he'll just have to make that deficit up at some point with a brace then.

Despite his superpowers, Mata remains humble as ever in the post-match interview, repeatedly steering the conversation towards Cesar Azpilicueta and the opening goal.

"But today I'm more happy for Cesar, to be honest. He trains more than anyone and he fully deserves the goal and the celebration more than anything."

And even when the interviewer tries to get something juicy with regards to Mourinho's squad selections, Mata disarms him with a perfect controversy-destroying response.

"I just try to play, and enjoy my football"

"The manager is the one who makes the decisions, but I always try my best for this club and that's what I'll always do. Today I enjoyed it, and I felt proud for the fans, but I'm really happy for Cesar."

Mourinho once again challenged the backups - "backups" - to give him a selection headache for Saturday and I'd say they accomplished that mission.  And so, faced with this wonderful problem of having quality, motivation, confidence, and happiness throughout the squad, we await the arrival of winter.  Fortunately, those coats modeled by José and the rest of the staff and players look quite cozy and comforting.

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