One of the most unforgettable moments in a Chelsea fan’s life would have been the day when Juan Mata left Chelsea to join their bitter Premier League rivals Manchester United. But the main reason behind this was Chelsea’s baby-faced assassin Oscar. When Jose Mourinho came back to Chelsea many changes took place and the outcome was a fully modified Chelsea squad which is now better than ever.
But the most shocking and sort of unexpected change was replacing Mata with Oscar in the number ten role. There were multiple valid reasons behind this but the alteration was totally worth it as Oscar is now a very key player for Chelsea and a player who cannot be replaced with anyone. Even Juan Mata is a very essential player for Man United and nowadays also an irreplaceable figure. Mata joined United in the January window of 2014 for 37 million pounds.His first few months at Old Trafford were pretty rough but things settled down slowly.
Let us now compare these two chaps who are in top notch form and conclude who is the better out of the two.
Both Mata and Oscar play in the same position but have different roles and both of them have their different styles. When it comes to technicality very few footballers come close to Mata, Juan is an excellent passer ; whether it be long passes or short he is the master of both, master of lofted and through balls, brilliant at hold up play, an expert of direct free kicks, he is also a brilliant set piece taker. He is also a natural play-maker who is excellent at link-up play. Apart from all these qualities Mata also has the eye for the goal and is a very good finisher.
Whereas Oscar is a player who relies more on his instincts and is a very industrious player who cover miles without getting tired. He is a textbook full pitch covering player whose contribution will be felt on both ends of the pitch. Strong aspects in Oscar’s game are his tackling, short passes, counter-attacking, quick combination play and direct free kicks.
Juan Mata plays behind two strikers in Van Gaal’s trademark 3-5-2 formation and he has a very well-defined job to do on the pitch. All he does is get into positions where he can collect the ball and create chances for his fellow strikers Falcao and Robin Van Persie. Along with this he sometimes also has to contribute in the defence as well when needed. Mata also gets in positions where he can score goals as he plays right behind the strikers, this season he has netted 5 goals in 19 Premier League appearances and his assist form has badly gone down as he has only made 3 assists so far.
Oscar on paper is a central attacking midfielder or a traquartista, but his job is completely different and modified from that role. Chelsea now play a pressing game where they like to dominate possession. In this style Oscar sums up the industrious side of the game as he frequently tackles the opposition in order to collect the ball, regain possession and create chances or pass it ahead to initiate an attack. Whereas Chelsea sometimes also play on the counter where the hard working nature of Oscar is personified as he never fails to track back when the possession is lost. Other than this Oscar’s contribution in defence is relentless as he is always there to block shots, make important tackles and intercept passes. Because of playing in such a role Oscar’s name does not appear on the score sheet or assist chart very frequently but this season he has racked up 6 goals and made 7 assists in 18 Premier League appearances which is quite an impressive figure.
Mata’s weaknesses are – he lacks the attribute to track back when possession is lost and he is also a bad tackler as his tackles often lead to bookings. Oscar has no significant weakness but he is the jack of all trades and master of none.
The conclusion is quite obvious when we take the current forms and roles into consideration. Now Oscar is a much better midfielder as he does a lot more work than Mata and also edges him in goals and assists. Another reason why Oscar is a better player is his young age, Oscar is still 23 and has a lot of room for further development. Mata is 26 and reaching close to his peak years. Mata’s performance has gone down and there are multiple reasons behind this. But as time passes chances are there that Mata’s form might improve.
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Edited By: Abhay Shenoy