Mata unconcerned by Spain snub
Juan Mata insists he will not let his recent omission from the Spain squad get to him after he came back to haunt Andre Villas-Boas by starring in Chelsea's 4-2 demolition of Tottenham.
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8. Juan Mata
While much of the focus this season has been on new arrivals Oscar and Eden Hazard, it is Mata who has grabbed the headlines of late thanks to a series of stunning displays - the latest of which came at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
With Tottenham 2-1 up, the Spaniard swung the game in Chelsea's favour by scoring twice in just over two minutes before playing in Daniel Sturridge to seal the Blues' win in injury-time.
Mata's brace, which could have easily been converted in to a first Barclays Premier League hat-trick, came two weeks after the midfielder was left out of Spain's squad to face Belarus and France.
While Vicente Del Bosque has an embarrassment of riches to choose from in midfield, anyone who has seen Mata in action recently must be wondering how on earth the 24-year-old could be overlooked for his national side.
The player himself, however, just wants to concentrate on the task in hand at Chelsea.
"I don't know (whether anyone was watching from Spain). I just try to improve with every Chelsea game I play," he said.
"I just wanted to do my best for my team and in this moment I am feeling really well.
"I had another chance for a goal but Fernando (Torres) was in a better position than me to score.
"But the most important thing for me was victory. Before the game we wanted to stay top of the league and we are still there."
Mata's performance helped Chelsea strengthen their grip on the Barclays Premier League ahead of next weekend's meeting with arch rivals Manchester United.
Roberto Di Matteo's men are four points ahead of the Red Devils and are playing the most attractive football in the country - something which Villas-Boas tried and failed to do during his reign at Stamford Bridge last term.
Yet there are worries that Chelsea's attacking style can leave them exposed at the back - as was the case on Saturday when William Gallas and Jermain Defoe were allowed to put Spurs 2-1 up after Gary Cahill's bullet volley opener.
With John Terry banned for the next three domestic games, Chelsea are more vulnerable, but Di Matteo insists he will not change his approach, regardless of the opposition.
"It's important we keep our philosophy of how we want to win games," the Chelsea manager said.
"Going behind made it hard for us but we believe in our capabilities.
"It's not the first time we have come from behind to win. It was a very exciting game, a typical London derby with two good teams in good form.
"We lost control of the game and there was concern, but we came back."
The game proved to be an agonising one for Villas-Boas.
The Portuguese, sacked in March after eight months at Chelsea, lost Mousa Dembele to a hip injury and then saw Gareth Bale withdraw from the starting XI after his partner went in to labour on Saturday morning.
Without the Welshman's pace, and the Belgian's calm touch and distribution, Spurs were awful at times in the first half.
Villas-Boas, who turned 35 this week, roused his troops after the break, however, and the north London club played some exquisite football after the restart, only for Mata to kill the game off with his magic touch half-way through the second period.
Villas-Boas, whose team now sit fifth in the table, played down the significance of the defeat to his former employers.
"We feel disappointed, but we have 30 more games and what we have to do in those games is prove that we are competent," Villas-Boas said.
"If we lose to Chelsea at home and at Stamford Bridge it doesn't matter for us, so long as we reach our objectives.
"The game showed we have players who can react. It was good to see them bouncing back from adversity because that's what we need to see now against Southampton and Wigan."