Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has today confirmed that Juan Mata will start against former club Chelsea this weekend, reports the club's official site.
Mata signed for United in January of last year under David Moyes for a fee of around £37.1million, and, after a slow start with the Manchester club, he is starting to justify the heavy price tag.
And Van Gaal has admitted that Mata will have a key role to play tomorrow evening, as he told reporters: “Normally I always put players in the line-up if they've played for the opponent, so I think Mata shall play.”
Mata on fire
The Spanish midfielder was a key figure in United’s recent wins over rivals Liverpool and Manchester City - scoring in both games and helping the club enjoy a six game winning streak in the league.
Despite this impressive run, United aren’t favourites going into the game at Stamford Bridge - and without Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Michael Carrick, who all started in the derby win, their chance of extending the streak to seven games is running thin.
CLOSE THE GAP
But, despite the handicap United face, Van Gaal is relishing the opportunity to move up the league and close the gap between the league leaders and themselves: "The challenge is bigger than big," the United manager said.
"Firstly, Manchester United has not given the best results in away games and, secondly, Chelsea do not lose so much at home. So it will be very difficult.
“Chelsea play at home but I think they will be satisfied with a draw. However, of course they want to beat Manchester United and we want to beat them.”