Mata and Luiz have been assigned to more bench duty than they would like so far this season. The Spaniard completed his first 90 minutes at Swindon, while Luiz has made only one full league appearance since Mourinho’s return.
Spain international Mata has been told to adapt his position and defensive capabilities by the boss, which is something he says he is prepared to do, per Ralph Ellis of the Daily Star:
In my career I have played in three different positions. In the beginning I was a left-winger, then I played on the right and last season as a No. 10.
I feel comfortable playing in any offensive position, it is better if a player can play in lots of different positions rather than just one …
For me, the only thing in my mind is to keep working, training hard, and improving as a player, and to keep scoring and making assists. That is what I did at Swindon.
Mata’s improved work rate at Swindon was evident, no doubt fuelled by Mourinho’s recent demand on him to emulate Oscar, who the Chelsea boss claims does a better job of occupying midfielders off the ball.
Boasting a 95 percent passing accuracy, Mata completed three tackles and committed three fouls during the cup tie—the latter statistic somewhat out of character for the playmaker.
In total, Mata committed one-fifth of Chelsea’s total fouls as he endeavoured to close down the opposition. He also contributed an assist in a fine all-round display.
Meanwhile, Luiz finds himself battling for a first-team place under Mourinho, despite being an automatic selection for World Cup hosts Brazil.
In the centre-back’s case, Mourinho has demanded a greater level of focus from the first whistle to the last. The Brazilian insists he is fully confident his class will win out eventually, per Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail:
I don’t need to prove anything. Everyone knows who David Luiz is. I want to play football and enjoy myself on the pitch, so when I have an opportunity to play I want to enjoy it.
I am just one more player in the team. Sometimes the manager puts me in, sometimes not. It is his choice.
Has the manager asked me to change my game? No. He asked me to play my football with high intensity, a high attitude from the start, like all the players. But that is why I am here.
Mata’s attitude is likely to impress Mourinho more than Luiz, who is widely acknowledged to be a defender prone to switching off at key moments of a match.
Everton’s winner at Goodison Park, when Luiz strayed from his defensive line, is a fine example of what Mourinho wants to boot out of his game.
Mata has shown willingness, in words and actions, to adhere to the new coach’s demands, and it would not be a surprise to see him start this weekend’s London derby with Tottenham.