Manchester United were perhaps a shade unfortunate not to take the 3 points against Arsenal in yesterday’s early kick off. Juan Mata opened the scoring and his overall performance earned him many plaudits.
Mata was influential in helping United control the game for most of the 90 minutes. His cool finish helped United turn that pressure into a goal just after half time, although United conceded a 90th minute equaliser after the Spaniard was subbed off.
Here’s a closer look at the statistics behind Mata’s performance, these help highlight how influential he was, not just during the scoring of the goal. Mata made 36 passes during the game which isn’t a huge amount, but he was successful with 86.1% of his attempted passes. He also attempted 5 crosses and 2 long balls, this shows he was not just attempting short and easy passes. The low amount of passes he made was probably because he was played on the right wing – a position where you are not involved as much in possession.
His defensive game has certainly improved under Mourinho and in big games like this it is important that you defend from the front – this is exactly what Mata did, making 2 interceptions and 3 tackles. Going forward he completed 3 dribbles and attempted 3 shots with 2 of them on target and 1 crucially a goal.
Here’s a sample of how Twitter has reacted to Mata’s performance on Saturday afternoon.
Mata is better than Ozil #Facts you all don't want to admit :
— Alawi (@alawiabdul) November 20, 2016
Ander Herrera with the assists, Juan Mata with the finish. Quality goal. Spanish connection. #mufc
— Devils of United (@DevilsOfUnited) November 19, 2016
Mata is a quality player. Was gutted when he left us.
— Alastair Paterson (@al_paterson) November 19, 2016
Juan Mata is just absolute quality, left Ozil for dead ?
— Alex Turk ✍? (@_AlexTurk) November 19, 2016
Mata is better than Ozil and today proved it. Dont @ me
— asʜ (@AshKaneSkittles) November 19, 2016
So is he better than Ozil? As an Arsenal fan I think it would be a bit biased for me to say one way or the other. What I can say is that aside from his goals, Ozil has not been at his best this season whereas Mata has excelled under Mourinho where many thought he may not play at all. The Spaniard has improved the defensive side of his game and he is capable of notching up goals and assists. This is promising for him, but can he really be considered better than Ozil?
Ultimately although Mata had a decent game yesterday, he needs to improve his goal and assist tally to be considered better than Ozil – as that is a good measurement of an attacking midfielder’s quality. The Spaniard only has 4 goals and 1 assist in 16 games this season and people are saying he has had a great season. In comparison people are suggesting Ozil has been poor this season but he has made 3 assists and scored 7 goals in 15 games for Arsenal. What does that tell you about the two players?