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    Magic Mata Can Take United Back to Top

    Whisper it quietly but United are creeping their way back into the title picture and it's no coincidence that this surge in form coincides with Louis Van Gaal finally finding a system that suits his best attacking players. One player who seems to have reaped the most benefits from Van Gaal's system is Juan Mata. The Spaniard found himself on the periphery of the first team last season, generally unfavoured in a number 10 role often occupied by Wayne Rooney, and never quite making an impression when forced to play as a wide man.

    Manchester United fans have been desperate to see the player who won consecutive Player of the Season awards for Chelsea. In his first two seasons in London Mata played in a mammoth 118 games, scored 32 goals and registered an incredible 38 assists. Mata's fine performances helped Chelsea win 3 trophies, with FA Cup and Champions League glory in 2012 and a Europa League in 2013. 

    These fans now believe Mata is back to his very best and he certainly had his best game in a United shirt against Wolfsburg. He ran the show, finishing with another goal and assist, and showing outrageous skill to set up Chris Smalling for the winning goal. This is great for United as Mata is showing form from an unfamiliar wide position, he seems to have bought into LVG's philosophy and has added to his all round game to make Jose Mourinho's comments about him being a luxury player seem very wrong in hindsight. 

    He has already matched the league goal tally for United that he managed for Chelsea (18), however he has done it 27 games faster, taking only 55 games and averaging a goal every 3 appearances. So far this season he has been directly involved in 55% of goals in games in which he has played, contributing 4 goals and 4 assists already. As well as a positive start to the season, nobody has contributed more goals to Manchester United's cause since Mata joined the club in January 2014 (29).

    Something Van Gaal will be delighted with though is the defensive side of Mata's game. Only Daley Blind and Morgan Schneiderlin have covered more ground than him so far this season, and he has also been averaging more than double the tackles and interceptions per game than in both of his Chelsea seasons combined. LVG is not quick to dole out praise to individuals but must be thrilled with how Mata is progressing and growing into a key player in this side.

    Despite Wayne Rooney's poor form so far he looks set to continue in the number 10 role, which means Mata can continue to flourish out wide. Even with a lack of pace and an apprehension to take players on and beat them, Mata can still be hugely effective out wide, constantly cutting inside and drifting between gaps and exploiting space. He has also been helped by the introduction of Anthony Martial, who's pace has been pulling defences apart since his arrival and giving Mata a much better platform to perform.

    His fantastic form has helped lift United to the top, but if they are to stay there Mata will need to be more consistent than he has ever been. United have 3 huge league games coming up, away trips to Arsenal and Everton, followed by the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford. If they can come through October still on top of the table, Juan Mata will definitely be harbouring hopes of a first league title in England.

    By Darren Beck (@DarrenBeck13)
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    Item Reviewed: Magic Mata Can Take United Back to Top Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Darren Beck
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