By Greg Stobart at White Hart Lane
It was mesmeric, majestic, magical. It was Mata. Chelsea’s Spanish genius has been in glorious form throughout the season so far, but his performance in the 4-2 win at Tottenham on Saturday was the kind that makes your jaw drop.
Not only did Mata score two goals with superb finishes, but he was the lynchpin as Chelsea dominated the game to extend their unbeaten record in the Premier League this season and remain top of the league.
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|Industrious and mischievous, the Spaniard flitted around the flanks and, just as he was starting to fade, he had a sniff of goal and suddenly woke up again. Took his scoring run to six in five games with two fantastic finishes and his effort made Sturridge's wrap-up goal.|
With Chelsea losing 2-1, it took a special talent to inspire the comeback. First Mata drilled the visitors level in the 66th minute from the edge of the penalty area, then two minutes later he latched on to Eden Hazard’s pass to convert past Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
As if that was not enough, he then proceeded to pick out two wonderful passes for Fernando Torres before providing the assist for Chelsea’s fourth, turned into an empty net by Daniel Sturridge.
Mata’s is unquestionably in the same league as the likes of David Silva and Santi Cazorla as Spanish stars take English football by storm with their technical abilities.
The 24-year-old instantly adapted to life at Chelsea last season ground out their way to European glory, but it is in this new-look, free-flowing side that he really shines.
Alongside Eden Hazard and Oscar, he forms a key part of the most frightening midfield in the country, one that showed again against Spurs that it can tear apart almost any opponent.
Chelsea are now, ironically, playing in the style demanded of Andre Villas-Boas by Roman Abramovich when he was employed in 2011.
It is Roberto Di Matteo, however, who is reaping the rewards of the owner’s ambition, and Chelsea have already established something of a cushion at the summit of the table with 22 points from their first eight fixtures.
And in Mata they have a player who will surely be a serious contender for player of the year if he can continue in this form. Comfortable receiving the ball in almost any situation, his skill, trickery and vision were simply too much for Tottenham. It would be for most teams.
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He already has 18 goals and 30 assists in 63 games for Chelsea, and has been worth every penny of the £23.5 million spent by Villas-Boas to sign him from Valencia.
But his technical ability would mean nothing without exceptional workrate, and without team-mates who can make the most of his talents.
All the pieces of the Chelsea’s midfield jigsaw are fitting into place right now, with John Obi Mikel in fine form as the holding midfielder and Ramires’ box-to-box energy and pace, which is most devastating on the counter-attack.
Chelsea will, surely, hit a bad patch at some point, but right now they are like an unstoppable train, and Mata is the man driving them on.
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