After Chelsea's victory over Fulham, Jose Mourinho stated that the reason why last year's Player of the Season Juan Mata had been left out of the squad was due to a failure to fit his play into Mourinho's new system at Chelsea.
Mourinho has made it clear from the start of the season that it is Oscar, not Juan Mata, who is his choice for the No. 10 position, and he said as much after the Fulham match. This would suggest that the Chelsea manager wants Mata to play in a wide position, rather than the middle slot that he had made his own throughout the last two seasons.
What we saw on Saturday, in the 1-1 draw with Tottenham, was a perfect example of "the three amigos," Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard, combining for the first time this season, and giving Chelsea one point. And perhaps, with that point, came a certain amount of vindication for Jose Mourinho. After all, it could easily have been three, had Fernando Torres not received a harsh red card.
Now, that is not to say that it is not still a work in progress. Neither Hazard nor Oscar had their best games on Saturday, and both struggled to make the impact that we have come to expect from them. Though on another day Oscar might have had a goal to his name after being set up by Torres, it was Juan Mata who had the biggest impact on the result, setting up John Terry to score the equaliser.
The biggest problem that Mourinho has had to address, is the need for width in the Chelsea midfield. With Oscar as the No. 10, he was left with two players in Hazard and Mata who both like to cut in, making it hard to generate the kind of width needed in a Premier League match.
Mata's reappearance might indicate that he is ready to accept this new role, and perhaps even embrace it. And although this is not his best position, it has to be said that this could be the better system for Chelsea. Some might consider Mata to be a better middle man than Oscar, but Oscar is not as good as Mata out wide. His welcome back into the team indicates that Mata might finally be embracing a wider role.
The Brazilian had been misused last season, often struggling to make an impact on the game from positions out wide, or even wasting away in defensive midfield. He has been able to flourish under Mourinho, and when you add Hazard and Mata either side, there is no reason that the three of them cannot make it work as an effective midfield trio.
This is hopefully something that we will see in Chelsea's Champions League game on Tuesday. If the Three Amigos can learn to play together in this way, they will be a force to be reckoned with, both at home and in Europe.