When Chelsea host Manchester United on Sunday, two players in particular will have a point to prove.
Eden Hazard has failed to repeat his displays of last season and only ended his nine-month goal drought last weekend when he scored a penalty in the FA Cup win at MK Dons.
Meanwhile, United’s Juan Mata will be hoping to earn more starts in his preferred number 10 role, after an influential performance against Stoke.
Stats from Opta, highlighted by fantasy football game www.oulala.com, show that Mata is outperforming his former Blues team-mate this season.
While Hazard’s last league goal came last May, in the 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace which clinched his side the title, Mata has scored four times this season.
Since joining United from Chelsea in January 2014, the Spaniard has often played out of position in a wider role, but he was used more centrally against Stoke on Tuesday and impressed his manager.
Louis van Gaal said afterwards: “He was participating in all three goals so that is what I like to see. When he [Mata] plays like this, I cannot say to him ‘go to bench’.”
That suggests Mata might be used behind the striker again at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and the Chelsea midfield and defence will know to keep an eye on him.
Mata has three assists this term to Hazard’s two, and he also has a better shots per game ratio (1.6 to 1.1). His shot accuracy is only marginally better than Hazard (48% to 47%).
The stats also show that Mata has an average of five more successful passes per game than Hazard, and a superior pass completion rate.
The only area where Hazard comes out on top is in terms of key passes per game (2.2 to 1.2), which shows that when Chelsea’s attack does perform, the Belgian is often involved.
However, the Blues have won only four of the 17 league games that Hazard has started – Mata has won nine matches from 21 starts.
Who will prove to be the star performer at the Bridge?