Rafa Benitez singles out playmaker for special praise

11:20 02 February 2013


Chelsea's Juan Mata arrives at Griffin Park. Picture: Adam Davy/EMPICS


Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez hailed the influence of Blues playmaker Juan Mata.

The Spaniard has been passed fit for tomorrow’s game with Newcastle, something that many consider to be key to their hopes.

But Benitez is delighted that goalkeeper Petr Cech is also set to return for the trip to the Magpies.

He said: “It’s not just Juan but also Petr Cech and hopefully David Luiz in the future. They are key players for us.

“Juan is, if you see the stats, doing really well so it’s important to have players that are in good form are fit.

“If we see another one doing well I’ll be really pleased because then you are not depending on one player.”

Mata was left on the bench for the first half of the 2-2 draw with Brentford, and the Blues were outplayed by the League One opponents but were the better side once the Spaniard came on.

The Spaniard was also withdrawn when Chelsea were 2-0 up against Reading and the west Londoners threw the lead away in the last three minutes.

“I can see the connection with Mata playing against Brentford as he was very influential in attack,” Benitez admitted.

“I can’t see the difference with Mata with the last ball in the last minute because he will not win in the air for sure.”

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