Why Juan Mata failed to make the difference against Arsenal

Why Juan Mata failed to make the difference against Arsenal


A few nice touches, and the occasional interesting glimmer is all we saw from Juan Mata yesterday at the Emirates.

Manchester United’s record signing failed to make a meaningful impression against Arsenal, and was hauled off at the 75th minute mark as David Moyes attempted to inject a little more vigour into his side.


But where did it go wrong for the diminutive Spaniard?

Mata is a player possessing of almost unlimited guile and invention, thriving just behind the striker, able to dictate the intricate attacking play in the final third.

Despite reports to the contrary, he is not a winger, and as we have seen in the last few weeks, if not utilised correctly, he can drift out of games, rarely showing off his enormous ability.

This is where Moyes’ biggest problem lies. The attacking triumvirate of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata is not gelling. Against Arsenal, Rooney had one of his quietest games in the number 10 role, Van Persie fed on scraps, and Mata was pushed to the flanks.

It is this wide play that is crippling Mata at present, and inhibiting his bedding-in process at the club.

mata recieved
taken from FourFourTwo StatsZone

As you can see from the above diagram, the passes Mata received during the Arsenal game were predominantly in the wider areas, away from his favoured role behind the striker. He was a non-entity in and around the penalty area, as the gaping void here proves.

Read moreArsenal 0-0 Manchester United: The Player Ratings

Rooney is most often played there by Moyes, and excluding last night’s poor display, the England man is often a superb operator from deep. But his inclusion forces Mata to the byline, severely limiting his ability to pick a final pass, or shoot at goal.

taken from FourFourTwo StatsZone

Mata attempted to come inside when playing passes, but in ineffectual areas. This remains the overwhelming issue with Mata at United, as with the 10 successful forward passes the 25-year-old made at the Emirates, only one can be considered a quintessential ‘Mata’ slip-through.

It is far too soon to say that Juan Mata is failing at United, but if the former Chelsea attacker is to be the man to save the champions’ flagging season, David Moyes will need to come up with permanent solution for his new star, and quickly.

Read moreHow much longer will Manchester United stick with David Moyes?

What do you think? What can Moyes do to change Mata’s fortunes? Let me know in the comments below…

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  1. If Mata is continuously played on the wing hé will slowly disappear like Kagawa. Moyes is limited as a tactician and must be moved . He’s out of his depth at United.

    • He is limited by his players Moyes is doing nothing different to Ferguson he bought Kagawa a 10 and put him on the wing waste of money a failure now the same with Mata and will be a waste of money it only works sort of if Rooney moves to the midfield yes he is the best midfielder at the club but he is also the best striker but he said never again so y not buy a midfielder its a desperation buy in January

  2. Simple formation:4321

    this is a formation that will suit all manchester united players

    1degea 2rafael 3evra 4evans 5smalling

    6carrick 7januzaj 8cleverly


    10rooney 11mata

  3. Moyes is tactically stupid, just put Rooney wide and pull mata into the middle……Fergie would have been brave enough to do this but Rooney has Moyes by the balls and will do what Rooney wants cause he is the bloody English hope even if the international players know deep down in their heart that Rooney is crap and only has occasional brilliance…..not consistent ! His ball control and first touch is also rubbish……if Fergie didn’t retire, he would have conned some club to pay a bucket load of money to take this egotistical prima Donna off our hands. Another overhyped English lemon!!!

    • Why Rooney ever put up with it in the first place ill never know i wouldn,t of he is 1 of the best strikers in the world played in the midfield but he has said no more he is the best striker at the club but happens to be the best midfielder as well all summer break Rooney has said striker here or striker somewhere else as 4 Mata what a waste of money buying another No10 that can,t get a game in his position because no 1 besides Man U plays with 2 strikers everyone else plays 451 and Man U has Rooney

  4. Moyes dose not know what he is doing no rhythm in united game, his tactics is not in any way improving united game well for him he might be doing. Well because his position in 7th is what he normally stay at the table

    • the players aren,t good enough nothing to do with Moyes if Rooney would of played in the midfield like last year the side is good enough to be 4th and luck like last year Fergie calls and Mancini destroying City and no Mourino and if Arsenal still had no money like last year maybe

  5. We have the players good enough to fight against any team.. its all about selecting the best eleven.. i would play the following team..
    de gea
    rafael smalling jones buttner
    nani kagawa/ mata anderson januzaj
    V.persie rooney

    Carrick is the weak link guys….

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