Chelsea FC – Juan Mata Makes All the Difference

For about 55 minutes, Juan Mata was denied space and freedom, and Chelsea looked like a team that might lose to a league one side in the FA Cup replay. But then he scored, and floodgates opened for Chelsea, and Mata helped Frank Lampard look better than he really is, and gave Rafa Benitez a few more days of relaxation.

It’s hard to see Chelsea not making the Champions League, but you never know, with everything that happens beneath Manchester United not too surprising. Manchester City, in some sort of managerial crisis, might not be interested anymore with anything this season offers. Chelsea are gunning for the second spot, but teams below the Blues – Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton are just as likely to claim the third spot.

For 55 minutes, Uwe Rosler and Brentford were pleased to be making life very complicated for Benitez. The news of his bust-up with John Terry, Roman Abramovich breathing down his neck, things did look a tad ominous.

We were very good denying Juan Mata this space to control. At periods, Chelsea was running out of ideas.

All of the money spent on players to make Chelsea worthy of the Champions League title they won last year, but Juan Mata is pretty much the only player that makes a difference between a sluggish display and a fun to watch one. Eden Hazard might also be a name to mention, but he has been a lot less consistent in his performances this season, but things did look very good with him on the pitch for 25 minutes.

One of the most important things we’ve seen over the last couple of matches from Chelsea is the winger. The moment Benitez has the winger he needs for this favorite formation, Chelsea look like a much more formidable side. It took more than half a season for the team to understand that they actually bought Marko Marin for a reason, and there’s no shame in starting him while Victor Moses is off winning titles in Africa. Now that Moses is back, there’s a good chance that Marin will be forgotten on the bench once again, as Oscar and Eden Hazard rotate in the spot next to Juan Mata.

Frank Lampard scored his 199th goal for the club, continuing to score while not doing much on the pitch. There’s isn’t a lot Lampard can do these days when it comes to creating for others, but he still has the positioning and finishing to keep his overrated career streak going. It still might not be enough to help him get a contract with Chelsea for next season. There are better players than him in the market at the position, and probably quite a few that come cheaper than Lampard, but at the moment, he’s the best Chelsea have when it comes to a midfielder who has the ability to do more than just one thing on the pitch.

This was only Brentford, but for a team with so many distractions, like David Luiz getting away for the second time this season with a very nasty tackle, every chance to finish a match without too many questions regarding the future of Rafa Benitez and Fernando Torres is almost a blessing.

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