The case for United picking Juan Mata this weekend

Anthony Martial’s injury is forcing Manchester United into an attacking reshuffle this weekend.

While Mason Greenwood is most likely to take his place, this could increase the need for experience around him, and bringing in Juan Mata.

Jesse Lingard’s place is under scrutiny, and Mata is one of the top contenders to replace him.

Andreas Pereira is another option, if United want a more compact midfield, but Mata will be pushing for his first start of the season.

Even though the Spaniard has played as a substitute in all three of United’s games so far, this has accumulated just 18 minutes of playing time.

Photo by David Lidstrom/Getty Images

Mata wrote in his blog this week about his decision to return to United, and his belief he can be a part of something important.

He said: “Perhaps would have been easier to leave, to accept that I did not arrive at Manchester United at the best point in their history and not renew.

“However, I believed, and still believe, that it was worthwhile to stay, to work so that this club returns to fighting for big trophies.

“I want to be here, working so that Manchester United can get back to what it used to be.”

Mata has the right attitude, and having taken up United’s offer, he will be wanting a bigger chance to contribute.

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Squad player and creator

Mata will have a big role off the pitch this season as much as on it, acting as a mentor to many of the club’s younger players. But he’ll want to play too.

He can help Greenwood and Rashford on the pitch, who could be starting together in a competitive game for the first time.

His creativity is likely to be needed against Southampton too if they adopt the same approach as Crystal Palace.

Teams are already clueing up on how to adapt to United’s counter-attacking style.

One newspaper wrote this week that teams simply will decide to give United the ball, and challenge us to break them down. This is what Palace did, and it worked.

Mata is one of United’s more skilled and creative attackers, also dangerous from set pieces, as he showed against Newcastle and Juventus last season.

Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford will need help, and Jesse Lingard has not been able to create much this season at all, and nor has Dan James, even though he has taken his two goals very well.

Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Solskjaer picked Mata to start only three away games in the Premier League last season.

United won two, against Newcastle and Fulham, and drew the other against Huddersfield.

While his effectiveness can be questioned at times, he is not the type of player to let United down in terms of effort and endeavour.

United’s attacking options are stretched. With that in mind it makes sense to play a fresh player, rather than Lingard who has started three games already.

Mata will not be playing for Spain over the international break. He needs the game time.

If he is selected, he can have no reason at this early stage to question his decision to re-sign at Old Trafford.

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