Date: 1st December 2013 at 1:30pm
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Jose Mourinho has claimed that it hurts him when Juan Mata is not playing – despite the fact that he’s the one that has been leaving the Spanish playmaker out of the line-up.

Mata was brilliant in his first two seasons at the club but finds his Chelsea career being tested for the first time this season as he’s had to remain patient and make-do with the chances he’s been given.

The 25-year-old has only been used 11 times so far this season and was an unused substitute during the 1-0 defeat to FC Basel in the Champions League. His omission has been to the bemusement of many fans, pundits and sport journalists, but could things be set to change?

Mourinho conceded after the Basel defeat that his players were tired and one of the reasons for this was because he did not freshen the line-up as frequently as he should do as Frank Lampard and Oscar, who made only 11 passes whilst on the field, looked particularly knackered.

On Mata not being in the team, Mourinho told reporters:

“He’s a very good player and a very good professional. When he is not playing, I’m not happy. It hurts me,” Mourinho said.

“The boy works and behaves. I have nothing negative to stay. If somebody is waiting for me to give a negative reason about him playing more or less, I have nothing negative to say about him.

“It’s just a question of an option. He will play this week. It’s a week for everybody. It will be difficult for somebody to be completely out of it.

“He will have at least a couple of matches.”

I’m not entirely sure what point Mourinho was trying to make by ousting Mata from the starting XI from the get-go – especially as the fans are so fond of him – but perhaps the Portuguese manager has been impressed by Mata’s attitude since then. At least I hope so.

When put in the position that Mata is currently in with a World Cup around the corner some players may take to having a dig or two at their club but not a word has been said by the Spaniard, only that he wants to train well and do his best for the team, surely this appeals to a man manager that is all about the idea of the collective?

Anyway, it seems as though fixture congestion has forced Mourinho’s hand to include the player more often and may even turn out to be a convenient excuse should the player prove something to the manager and make himself undroppable with his performances. Chelsea’s attack has a creative spark in Eden Hazard but is lacking someone with the sort of vision Mata has in the number 10 role. Oscar has performed very well and has shown improvement this season but does not create chances at the same rate as either of the aforementioned and I think he’d be better in a deeper role beside John Obi Mikel.

There’s always room for quality players like Mata, Hazard and Oscar in any XI, it’s just up to Mourinho to find it.