Whilst Chelsea ended up running out comfortable winners over Brentford at the weekend, the match was delicately poised at 0-0 for a long time before Juan Mata broke the deadlock with a sharp long range effort in the 54th minute. It was far from the first time that Mata has been the catalyst of a Chelsea victory, and it's fair to say the Blues have become somewhat reliant on the brilliant Spaniard in their quest for success this year.
As with all the accusations of teams being over reliant on one player, the facts have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Just as Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur would adjust if they were without Luis Suarez or Gareth Bale, Chelsea clearly wouldn't just field ten men if they didn't have Mata. However it is worth looking at just how good Mata has been for the Blues this year, even if just as a celebration of the Spaniard's form.
In the league alone Mata has ten goals and nine assists in 24 matches, directly contributing to 34.5% of Chelsea's goals.
His all round play is integral to the team, and it's worth noting that the recent win over Wigan was the first time Chelsea have won in the league this season without Mata in the starting eleven.
In the Champions League Mata managed three goals and three assist in the group stage, and in the other tournaments Chelsea have competed in this season Mata has four goals and eight assists.
Overall the 24 year old has 17 goals and 21 assists in 43 appearances for Chelsea this year, a truly astonishing record. Even considering the stellar form of the likes of Robin van Persie and Gareth Bale, Mata should be up amongst the very favourites for player of the season and if Chelsea are to gain any success from their remaining fixtures this year it is likely Mata will be at the very heart of it.
For all the money Chelsea have spent to build a squad of excellent players, Mata still stands head and shoulders above the rest of his teammates this season.
Just as Spurs look to Bale and Liverpool to Suarez when their team is in need of a spark, Chelsea look to Juan Mata, and he very rarely disappoints.
image: © Ben Sutherland