Ander Herrera & Juan Mata: The importance of the Spanish duo


Manchester United are in the best possible form at the moment and with six consecutive wins including those over Liverpool and Manchester City, the Red Devils will be hoping to continue that form against Chelsea.

Despite a slow start to the season where United found themselves well off the pace early on, manager Louis van Gaal has found the way to make things work and it seems like that will remain the same until the end of the season.

While United defeated an already battered and bruised City side that had received plenty of criticism heading into the game, the Red Devils still needed to go out on the pitch and take all the three points. The Citizens are still the defending champions so to think that the win was going to be easy would have been an understatement. However, Van Gaal’s men dispatched City with ease and once again two players that stood out were Ander Herrera and Juan Mata.

Both players are two shining stars of United’s rise as we move to the end of the season, playing a significant role in the team’s brilliant look of counter-attacking and controlled possession football. They have the ability to open up a defence with one pass while having the energy to track back and ensure the defence get cover.

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And with that clear for the fans to see the Spanish duo are slowly becoming a big hit with the United faithful. Herrera was one of United’s last summer signings after three superb years with Athletic de Bilbao with 128 appearances and 11 goals earning him a £29million move. He expected to help United increase their ball possession and improve the offense movement and he has with his five league goals in the league this year as well as his assists.

But it hasn’t been that easy for the former Spain U-21 international. He was a regular starter earlier on in the season but he struggled to secure his place after United were found out due to the manager playing his superstars in the same side. Louis van Gaal then worked on a 3-5-2 formation without Herrera in order to make his team stronger and some results were impressive which made him wait for his chance.

However, another dip in results called for Herrera to be given a chance and my goodness has he taken it with both hands. In a 4-3-3 formation which seems to be suiting the Spaniard, Herrera is now one of the first names on the team sheet alongside his midfield partners Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick. The trio offer United balance and their ability to go forward as well as defend has seen United win their last six games.

He has been given the freedom to link up with striker Wayne Rooney ans he is relishing the role. Against City we saw his sublime footwork when he sent Fernandinho crashing to the floor and those moments are something United fans better get used to with his best years ahead of him.

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We then switch to his best friend at the club and £37million signing Juan Mata.

He is the player fans want to see. Although he can’t guarantee his name on the team sheet every week, Mata is doing everything in his powers to ensure he does with his work rate, goals and assists making him a new born player at the club. As with Ander Herrera, the Dutch manager tried to strengthen his defence and Mata found himself frozen out the side for a good month or two. However, as everybody knows with his professionalism one of the best in the game, he worked hard and has seen the rewards.

You could say it helped United and Mata but Robin’s an Persie’s injury and Radamel’s Falcao difficulty to adapt with Wayne Rooney has helped Mata come back into the side with the need to change the formation. The Spanish star delivers quality to United’s offense playing on the right and that has been highlighted with his two wonderful goals against Liverpool along with his strike against City last weekend.

He is even keeping the £60million Angel Di Maria out the side so that shows what form he is in at the moment. And one thing Van Gaal and the fans will want is for Mata to kick on and keep delivering the form that made him such a hit at Stamford Bridge – where he spent a few years helping Chelsea, winning the UEFA Champions League at the same time.

Ander Herrera & Juan Mata are two great products of the recent great Spanish football generation we have all admired in the last years. They help United keep their ball with their brilliant footwork and tactical ability and they have the ability to now track back and work when United don’t have the ball.

For a manager there’s not more you could want from a bunch of players who are willing to put 100% in both ways and that’s what Van Gaal is currently getting out of this duo as well as the rest of his squad.

The results have made it clear that the Red Devils are on the way up and if the Spanish duo can continue to enjoy their lives and help United get results on the pitch, they will be a handful next season especially with European football back on the offering.

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