Juan Mata produced an emphatic performance during Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.
A glance at his stats shed light on what was an excellent performance: 90% pass accuracy, 5 crosses, 3 take-ons, 3 tackles won, 3 shots, 2 interceptions, 1 goal.
Mata has morphed into a master of silently devastating performances. Very rarely do you actually notice him during the game: the Spaniard embeds himself in the general fabric of the game and causes problems from within, quietly dismantling the opposition with ‘death by a thousand cuts’ approach.
This was illustrated in emphatic fashion once again today. Mata was everywhere, making clever passes, linking up nicely with teammates, before popping out of nowhere to put Man United ahead. At the same time, though, he was largely untraceable: the 28-year-old’s partnership with Valencia gives him license to ghost inside and carve out space at will, and such an approach worked brilliantly today.
United fans will be ultimately disappointed after seeing their side leave a game that they dominated from start to finish with just one point, but Mata’s liveliness serves as many of the positives to draw from this afternoon’s encounter.