Juan Mata

I like Juan Mata as a Fantasy Premier League option and he has graced my teams on multiple occasions over the last few years.

The Spaniard is rocking along nicely this season, clocking up three goals, three assists, five clean sheet points and six bonus points in the first seven games. He is now the third highest FPL points-scoring midfielder and the third highest FPL points scorer in the game.

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Despite his success, the Manchester United midfielder only began surfacing in discussion in the last couple of weeks. He recorded his first price rise of the season on September 17 and has risen twice more since then, reaching 8.8m on Tuesday morning. There are a couple of reasons for him appearing late and low on FPL managers’ radars. Firstly, he delivered no major returns in two of the first three gameweeks. Secondly, there was some uncertainty about whether he would keep his place.

The former Chelsea man has been subbed twice before the 70-minute mark this season, but if he can keep up his current rate of minutes played he will top 3,000 minutes for the first time since arriving in the Premier League. While the situation may need monitoring, I don’t see concerns over playing time as a reason not to bring him in.

Juan Mata GW1-7 2015-16

Mata isn’t among the best midfielders when it comes to his underlying stats. Where he shines is in the top level stats, particularly goals – Mata is joint second with the six other midfielders who have notched three times.

At this point you might expect me to make some reference to Mata’s goals to shots on target ratio being too high and to expect some regression – but I’m not going to.

In the last three seasons, Mata has consistently recorded an above average shots on target conversion rate and done so with more than 2,000 minutes played each year. Only in his first season in the Premier League did Mata record a below average shots on target conversion rate. Therefore, in the context of the player, I think his current goal-scoring performance can be sustained.

Where Mata is arguably over-performing is in assists. Some midfielders, like Cesc Fàbregas last year, can be exceptional at having chances created turn into assists, but Mata has not been one of them during his Premier League career.

Mata’s fixtures are tough over the next three weeks (ars, eve, MCI), but the Red Devils have scored three goals in each of their last three games (LIV, sot, SUN) so they have attacking form on their side. From Gameweek 11, Manchester United’s fixtures look more promising (cpl, WBA, wat, lei, WHU, bou, NOR, sto).

I discussed Kevin De Bruyne as a possible Yaya Toure replacement earlier this week. At 1.4m less, Mata should be considered as another good option for a vacant midfield slot.

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3 thoughts on “Juan Mata

  1. Ruth_NZ says:

    I definitely want Mata. Having watched him at Chelsea for 2 seasons I know what a little genius he is. Best creative midfielder in the PL bar none in my view.

    Now, admittedly I wasn’t playing FPL back then so I wasn’t watching how his play converted into FPL points, though I know he managed 162 and 212 points in those seasons. 212 points is the production of a 10m+ player and on that basis Mata would be under-valued at his current price. But what I do know in any case is that he is a player whose underlying stats (for example for chances created) I would pretty much ignore.

    What numbers like “chances created” miss is the quality of those chances. Like Fabregas at his best, Mata doesn’t just create chances. He lays them on a plate. He’s that good. And he’s also a very good finisher because he has a great timing of his runs into the box.

    The only thing that has put me off having Mata in my team has been insecurity of selection under LVG, based on last season. But I am now settled that Mata is one of the first names on his teamsheet. The departure of Di Maria basically gives LVG no sensible option for the position he has decided is Mata’s best.

    In addition, there are now two extra things in Mata’s favour. First is the arrival of Martial, whose pacy runs Mata will certainly pick out. The second is that LVG has apparently decided to make United a more balanced, counter-attacking team (rather than the more gung-ho attack they are traditionally known for). Mata thrives in a counter-attacking style, that was where he was at his best at Chelsea.

    The question for me is only when, not if. And I think that will be GW12 as a replacement for Sterling. The fixture advantage seems to swing from City to United then. And once in my team I’d expect to keep Mata for the long haul.

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  2. Ruth_NZ says:

    PS I’d suggest you review the comment about Mata “not being exceptional at creating assists during his PL career”. In his 2 full seasons at Chelsea he had 16 and 18 assists, that is exceptionally high. The next season was disrupted, he lost his place at Chelsea because he didn’t suit Mourinho and then had to establish himself in a United team struggling under Moyes. And last season he did very well when LVG played him but was in and out of favour.

    Now he is established and preferred I’d expect him to produce at something close to his Chelsea levels again. 180+ points pretty much guaranteed failing injury in my view.

    PPS It sometimes seems as if you have a list of my planned future transfers and are writing about them one by one. First Lukaku, now Mata. You’ll be writing an article about Eriksen next. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ruth. You were right I didn’t phrase that part about assists as clearly as I should have. I’ve adjusted it and hopefully that makes more sense. He can create a lot of chances and therefore a lot assists, but his ratio of assists to chances created hasn’t been exceptional like it was for Fàbregas was last year. At the minute Mata isn’t in the top 10 midfielders for chances created this season.

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