Mata will have no problem with Bolton test says ex-teammate
Published 22:55 01/10/11 By Anthony Clavane
Juan Mata has been backed by his old team-mate Pablo Hernandez to cope with the challenge of playing at Bolton today.
Mata has made a big impact in west London since his switch from Valencia in the summer and has been instrumental in transforming Chelsea into a much more fluent attacking side.
Critics have warned he faces a big physical test at the Reebok Stadium – but Hernandez has no doubts the 23-year-old Spaniard will adapt to a more traditionally British contest.
Hernandez said: “Yes, he will be able to scrap. He works very hard for the team, trying to create constant danger for opposing defences. He is always looking to help his team-mates all the time.
“He has got so much quality that he would fit into any good side. He sees a lot of passes that other players don’t see and is also good at one-on-ones – going past people.
“I’m sure he will keep on showing his quality.”
Hernandez believes Chelsea’s £23million signing is the perfect midfielder to spark the Blues back into life.
“Juan is a very bright player, very clever,” he added.
“He is capable of scoring a lot of goals from midfield.
“I still talk a lot to Mata on the phone. It was very special for him to return home.
“He is not just a former team-mate but a great friend and we swapped shirts as we had always planned to do.”
And Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard (above) believes Mata has give the Blues the edge in their battles for success this season – and is bringing something different to Chelsea’s play.
“He’s definitely added a lovely dimension to our team,” said Lampard. “We had a very good unit but it’s great to have someone with that sort of jinky, creative abilty that can offer something else – a little bit like David Silva does at Man City.
“He’s got that similar quality and that is only going to improve us. He will get even better for us as well.
“Trust me, a player like Mata has the quality to play at Bolton or anywhere.
“Maybe the more physical players around him have to fight the battle with Bolton but when you have got a player like Mata, he can always unlock the door and that’s priceless.
“He deserved his great reception in Valencia. To see what high regard they hold him in there showed the player that he was and the person that he is.
“He is going to be a massive player for us – and he is obviously held in the greatest regard in Spain.”
Lampard admits that Chelsea face a daunting task in challenging the two Manchester clubs for the title this season.
“Fair play to Man United and Man City,” he said. “They have flown out of the blocks in the Premier League but it is a very long season.
“We did it last year.
“We flew out of the blocks and then we hit an absolute brick wall so you can’t judge anything at this stage of the season.”