Following their 1-1 draw with Arsenal last weekend, there was one United player that received a lot of praise for his performance.
That man was Juan Mata, who looked set to become the match winner until Olivier Giroud’s late equaliser.
While his goal didn’t determine the match, his display certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
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Jamie Carragher branded him as one of the most underrated players in the Premier League, while Gary Neville has admitted that Mata has proved him wrong this season with his impressive performances.
But maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by Mata producing a brilliant performance against a big-club. That’s because a statistic from Sky Sports has emerged about his career figures against the ‘big 6’ - Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs.
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In the graphic below, you’ll see that Mata comes above Philippe Coutinho, Mesut Ozil, David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Christian Eriksen.
The Spaniard has played in 43 matches against the best six clubs in England, scoring 13 goals and providing 10 assists. That gives him a minutes per goal/assist ratio of one every 148.6 minutes.
Coutinho is next with 11 goals and three assists in his 31 matches against big clubs, while Ozil - who is often criticised for going missing in big matches - is third with five goals and seven assists in 25 appearances.
Silva, who has played in the most matches against big clubs with 50 appearances, has scored seven and assisted 16, while his teammate De Bruyne has scored three times in eight matches.
After his disappointing season last year, Hazard’s big game influence has been damaged with him scoring 11 and assisting three in his 40 matches. And in seventh is Eriksen, who has a massive minutes per goal/assist ratio of 337.4 with three goals and four assists in 28 appearances.
It highlights Mata’s importance in big matches and shows how Jose Mourinho’s opinion of him has changed.
The Portuguese boss sold Mata whilst at Chelsea and it was believed the midfielder’s future was in doubt when he arrived at Old Trafford this summer. However, at the moment, Mata is arguably United’s most-important player - especially in matches against big clubs.
On Monday Night Football, Mata’s qualities were dissected by Carragher and he compared him to the other No 10s in the league.
"I think we're looking at one of the most underrated players in the Premier League," he said of Mata.
"When we think of great No 10s, players who like to get in between the lines, players of his ilk like Ozil, De Bruyne, Coutinho, Silva and Hazard. We should be rating this man a lot higher.
"People always talk about assists with No 10s, but I don't care what position you play a goal is more important than an assist for me. He's getting more goals than any players in those positions, only Silva has more assists."
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