Manchester United’s Juan Mata makes Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week

by Leo Nieboer


Juan Mata has earned a place in Garth Crooks’ BBC Team of the Week following his performance against Arsenal last Saturday.

The Spaniard, deployed on the right hand side, was a constant threat, forming a devastating partnership with Antonio Valencia, often cutting inside to exploit space as the Ecuadorian bombed down the flank.

His wonderfully taken goal on 68 minutes – a low sweep, struck whilst running at full speed, into the bottom corner – looked to have sealed the three points for Jose Mourinho‘s men, but Olivier Giroud’s late header gave Arsenal an undeserved point.

Mata joins a midfield trio of Manchester City’s Yaya Toure and Watford’s Roberto Pereyra in Crooks’ Team of the Week.

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It can often go unnoticed that Mata, since arriving in January 2014, has been Manchester United’s most consistent attacking player.

A lot has changed at Old Trafford since the 28-year-old joined: new faces, spells of poor form, three different managers, the occasional moment of brilliance – a constantly oscillating bandwagon of fiscally driven chaos, precipitating an identity crisis that shows no signs of abating any time soon.

And yet, amongst all of that, Mata has always been there, scoring goals and recording assists on an astonishingly frequent basis. Indeed, since joining the Premier League in 2011, the Spaniard has recorded 41 assists and 42 goals – more than any midfielder.

With this in mind, perhaps Mata – in a similar way to Park Ji-Sung, the ultimate unsung hero at Old Trafford – deserves more credit from United fans.

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