Jan Molby

Masterful Mata could lead stylish Chelsea to glory

Jan Molby

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Chelsea have been consistent trophy winners since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, but it was always said that he wanted something a bit more, something stylish. Now I think he finally has it with the outrageously talented collective of players Roberto Di Matteo has at his disposal.

Jose Mourinho was wildly successful during his time at Stamford Bridge - he set the standard by which all future managers will be judged in that corner of London - but his attitude first and foremost was to make sure his team didn't lose, and take it from there. They were well organised and pragmatic.

That continued to an extent last season when Chelsea adopted a negative approach to win the Champions League, particularly in the final against Bayern Munich, but they have emerged at the start of the 2012-12 campaign with a far more positive approach.

We anticipated some changes and a move to a more progressive strategy, but we have seen a decisive shift away from that safety-first attitude this season and I think Abramovich will be delighted to see the evolution the club has undergone. I think the owner will have said to his manager, 'I've bought you all these players, now put them in the team together and let's have some fun'.

Di Matteo was arguably lucky to get the Chelsea job and it took a Champions League win for him to hold onto it permanently. Then he was given all this money to spend in the summer and you felt he was under extreme pressure to produce an exciting team. But full credit to him, he has succeeded in doing that and it looks very much as though the players enjoy playing for him. I never thought I would see this approach from a Chelsea team and you have to say it has been a 10 out of 10 season so far.

The style Chelsea have been playing with this season has been very impressive indeed. The combination of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar are as good as anything in world football at present. They have hit it off immediately; they second-guess each other and they get it right all the time. The way they interchange with their passing is very fluid, they all see a pass and they all weigh in with goals. That is fortunate, as Fernando Torres still seems to be struggling, even if he clearly enjoys playing in this style more than he did last season.

I thought we would see the three players dovetailing so well at some stage, but certainly not this quickly. I didn't think they would find each other and find their feet as quickly as they have done.

I analysed the Arsenal away performance for Danish TV and one thing struck me in particular. It is all very well chucking in those three playmakers - with an inherent danger that the team will become too attack-minded as a result - but if you look at the way they get themselves organised when they don't have the ball it is very impressive indeed.

They did that again at Spurs. They work extremely hard to get back into position very, very quickly after losing the ball and it is almost impossible to get through them. And then when they break it is like a 100m sprint.

None of them came cheap, but they are all young and this is a combination that could last years for Chelsea. Beyond those three they have further options in the likes of Victor Moses and Marko Marin. There are a whole host of young players at Chelsea who are technically savvy and good on the ball, as well as quick. Kevin de Bruyne, who is on loan at Werder Bremen, is another one who is doing very well. There is rightly a lot of excitement about the players they are bringing through.

The star of the whole show is Mata, though. He has six goals and seven assists in his past six games alone. People assume he is a wide player but he loves responsibility on the ball and you have to give a player like him a free role. He has that arrogance when he is on the ball and he sees the passes. When he scored the equaliser against Spurs he also showed his composure. A lot of midfield players would have just smashed it but he controlled the ball and guided it into the bottom corner. Pure class.

We have seen Spanish players like Cesc Fabregas and David Silva make huge impressions on English football but I think Mata has the potential to be the best. He is still young and will only get better, and he is more capable of scoring goals over a long period.

This Chelsea team have few weaknesses, but given they do play an open, attacking game they will get caught out at times. It is also difficult to predict whether they will be able to maintain this excellent run of form because there are still a few players who are not used to English football and might not be ready for the winter, when games come horrendously quickly and there's no break as there is on the continent. That will be a new experience for the likes of Hazard. There will also be big pressure as the Champions League continues as well. There is so much enthusiasm from the new players at the moment and they are playing very, very well, but it will get harder as the season progresses.

But if they can continue at a level anywhere near to how they have been performing in the early part of the season then they will go very, very close.

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