Watchlist

The Watchlist – Juan Mata

The appointment of Rafael Benitez as Chelsea manager on November 21 was one of those heart-sinking moments Fantasy managers experience each season. Suddenly a solid offensive unit of nailed-on stars was to be managed by a man known more for squad rotation and defensive strategy than attacking swagger.

For Juan Mata owners, it was a devastating blow. Between Gameweek 5 and Gameweek 12, which proved to be Roberto Di Matteo’s last match in charge, the Spanish midfielder had racked up 60 points during a superb run that included four goals, six assists and eight Fantasy Premier League (FPL) bonus points. Averaging 8.5 FPL points per game during that above-mentioned period, it seemed the last thing Mata needed was Benitez in charge.

At the start of Benitez’s tenure, Mata owners’ fears were proved right. Not only did Gameweek 13 see Chelsea shuffle their way through a drab 0-0 draw with Man City, in Gameweek 14 the former Valencia man fell victim to his countrymen’s famous rotation policy and started on the bench. Mata did manage to accrue 28 minutes at home to Fulham that day but after the resultant goalless draw, Fantasy managers could be forgiven for tossing in the towel and waving goodbye to the points potential of Chelsea’s attacking assets.

Further sorrow was to follow in Gameweek 15 when West Ham beat Chelsea 3-1 at Upton Park. The game did at least prove comforting for Mata owners, with the Spaniard starting and scoring his side’s only goal. As the team get used to their new manager’s focus on defence and a more rigorous fitness regime in training, though, they have gradually built up the confidence to attack. In Gameweek 16 Chelsea quite simply humbled Sunderland, with Mata once again getting on the scoresheet, as two more FPL bonus points took his total bonus tally to 10 for the season.

Two Premier League starts in a row and a pair of goals in as many games is as good a sign there is that, after an initial slump, Mata could be a key attacking asset during the Benitez era. Chelsea’s December 5 Champions League clash with Nordsjaelland saw the London outfit winning 6-1 and added further fuel to the assertion that Mata is back as a key Fantasy asset – a goal and a trio of assists was a truly mouth-watering score, if converted into FPL or Sky Sports points.

Disappointment was to follow in the World Club Championship final earlier this month where Chelsea were beaten 1-0 by Brazilian side Corinthians, but there is still enough evidence in recent weeks to convince us that Mata is a deserved riser in our Watchlist. A goal and assist in last night’s Capital One Cup rout at Leeds was accompanied by a man of the match award as Mata’s fine form under his compatriot continued.

As Fantasy managers scour the market in order to replace the suspended Marouane Fellaini, Mata looks an enticing proposition. While other premium priced options such as Gareth Bale sit on four yellows, one away from a booking, Santi Cazorla is set for a blank Gameweek 19 after Arsenal’s Boxing Day clash with West Ham was postponed. Over 44,000 FPL managers have snapped Mata up this week – a clear sign that faith in his potential for points is on the rise again. Fixtures for Chelsea are mixed over the festive period (AVL, nor, eve, QPR) but the promise is there for Mata to add to his six goals and six assists for the season – those two home games with Villa and QPR look like particular Christmas crackers for the diminutive midfield schemer.

Regarding price, Mata still offers value in the FPL and Sky Sports game. While his cost remains at 8.9 in the latter game, Mata’s slow start to the season, caused by injury and fatigue, saw his FPL price plummet from a starting valuation of 9.5 to 8.8 in Gameweek 6. He’s been mainly rising since and is now once again back to his initial valuation of 9.5; not bad for a player who racked up 163 points, six goals and an incredible 16 assists in his top-flight debut last time round.

The only real downside is Benitez’s penchant for rotation. Last night’s game with Leeds was Chelsea’s eight in 24 days and with the likes of Victor Moses, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marko Marin and even Ramires vying for berths in the attacking midfield three, the new man in charge has options aplenty should he choose to freshen up his starting XI over the hectic Christmas schedule. Of that group, Mata and Hazard look the most nailed on, though, and with Benitez keen to win over the Blues support, he can perhaps ill-afford to overlook his compatriot’s stunning form as the Blues look to get their faltering title bid back on track.

Jonty An older Cazorla, younger Rafa Benitez, romeo con-man and occasional Mark Noble lookalike.” Follow him on Twitter

1,000 Comments Post a Comment
  1. SuperOsçarBaby
      3 years, 7 months ago

      This is currently my team for GW18:

      Begovic
      Riise • Clyne • O'Brien
      Michu • Ramirez • S.Cazorla • Lampard
      Berbatov • Rooney(vc) • Aguero(C)

      Bunn Morrison Whittaker Wisdom

      I dont have any spurs attacking player so I am playing Begovic.
      Question : Play Riise or Whittaker?

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    • ola32
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      3 years, 7 months ago

      Foster back for Boxing day? Got him and Szczesny..

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      1. floydy_floyd
          3 years, 7 months ago

          Sir chesneys mrs is next level. Google that ish

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      2. Paulo67c
          3 years, 7 months ago

          Worried about my defence going into the Christmas period:
          Goalkeepers okay: Jaask and Bunn

          Baines, Hughes, Cameron, Demel, Clark

          Clark has a couple of hard fixtures
          Demel has a hard fixture then a blank
          Cameron has a number of hard fixtures in the next 5GWs
          Hughes has good fixtures but Fulham have been poor, especially at the back.
          Baines is underperforming (fantasy wise) and Everton can't keep clean sheets.

          I have no free transfers left this week but should I make a change for this week? Got Cameron, Demel and Baines playing at the moment. Would get rid of Hughes if so, and got 1.1m in the bank.

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          1. rvp786
              3 years, 7 months ago

              no need. all 5 of them defenders are good.

              hughes has easy fixtures coming up.
              clark is a good bet at 4.4m and fixtures ease up.

              no need for a hit

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          2. Timon
              3 years, 7 months ago

              Fletcher is confirmed out this week?

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            • lightspeed
                3 years, 7 months ago

                Are we thinking that silva is nailed on?

                Seems to be the general consensus

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                1. rvp786
                    3 years, 7 months ago

                    yeh pretty much. aint played much all season so will play provided he is fit

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                2. King Nemanja
                    3 years, 7 months ago

                    Keeping in mind rotation, would you rather

                    A) Man City defender
                    B) Spurs defender

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                    1. Timon
                        3 years, 7 months ago

                        city

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                        1. TRIGGERLIPS
                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                          3 years, 7 months ago

                          spurs BAE or Vert

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                          1. Timon
                              3 years, 7 months ago

                              vert

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                        2. SW6
                            3 years, 7 months ago

                            City. And out of all of them Clichy

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                          • King Nemanja
                              3 years, 7 months ago

                              cheers folks

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                          • Just Ruud
                              3 years, 7 months ago

                              Probably, which is a shame because even though i wanted to ship him after the DGW i would have been content to play him this weekend, seeing as there are other more pressing transfers to make (a big afro sporting,head-butting one in particular) :-)

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                              1. Just Ruud
                                  3 years, 7 months ago

                                  oops, reply fail to Mr Paul concerning Fletcher :-)

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                              2. hnmfm
                                  3 years, 7 months ago

                                  I had a dream caulker started and scored a goal and a clean sheet. even tho I never had him in my fantasy team, strong dream.

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                                  1. rdpx
                                      3 years, 7 months ago

                                      I had a dream that I was waterskiing down niagara falls on a watermelon.

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                                    • Demelbrush
                                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                      3 years, 7 months ago

                                      In my dream last night Berba scored 26 points and he wasn't my captain

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                                    • Athletico Timbo
                                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                      • Has Moderation Rights
                                      3 years, 7 months ago

                                      I use to have recurring nightmares I was a serial killer. Sometimes when awake I didn't know if it was true or not.

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                                      1. Athletico Timbo
                                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                        • Has Moderation Rights
                                        3 years, 7 months ago

                                        So I'd just kill the fookers anyway

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                                        1. Ginkapo
                                            3 years, 7 months ago

                                            😀

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                                      2. 1874FC
                                          3 years, 7 months ago

                                          I dreamed that Santi, Silva and Benteke all scored hat-tricks..but then i woke up - gutted

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                                      3. Caine & Co.
                                          3 years, 7 months ago

                                          mata (c) dispite the worry of a 1 point sub appearance

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                                          1. Bond, James Collins.
                                              3 years, 7 months ago

                                              He'll start.

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                                              1. Caine & Co.
                                                  3 years, 7 months ago

                                                  hope so

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                                            • Bond, James Collins.
                                                3 years, 7 months ago

                                                People are worrying too much about Arsenals blank. Theo could really explode this gameweek.

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                                                1. Bond, James Collins.
                                                    3 years, 7 months ago

                                                    As always, when i post, there is a new post. Conspiracy.

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                                                  • Caine & Co.
                                                      3 years, 7 months ago

                                                      *giroud

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                                                  • Demelbrush
                                                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                                    3 years, 7 months ago

                                                    Berba > Defoe for a hit?

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                                                    1. Caine & Co.
                                                        3 years, 7 months ago

                                                        not even for free, berba will score a hat trick

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                                                        1. stupendous
                                                            3 years, 7 months ago

                                                            Away at Liverpool, playing deeper with no Ruiz still?

                                                            Dream on. Then again he banged a brace and assist away at Arsenal (but that was before, this is now)

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                                                        2. Athletico Timbo
                                                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                                          • Has Moderation Rights
                                                          3 years, 7 months ago

                                                          No

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                                                      • Keep calm and hoof me the b…
                                                          3 years, 7 months ago

                                                          Merry Christmas all
                                                          Still trying to decide what to do with Fellaini. I want to upgrade to Mata/Silva, but that means either downgrading Enrique to a £4m def or Suarez to £8.3m (e.g. Ba) and taking a 4 pt hit. Any advice?

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                                                        • La Roja
                                                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                                          3 years, 7 months ago

                                                          So since Nasri and Milner out, siva to right back, yaya to play further up??

                                                          But it's mankini, I won't surprised if he plays Yaya as right back vs Reading

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                                                          1. La Roja
                                                            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                                            3 years, 7 months ago

                                                            sorry meant silva to right wing, which is pretty obvious anyway

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                                                        • Romani
                                                            3 years, 7 months ago

                                                            It seems to me that the problem in having the option to make a change every week is that you do exactly that! Suarez, Tevez, Aguero, Ba, RVP etc will all score heavily, so surely it is better to stick with your choice(s) and make changes when needed and not because you can. Similarly, Mata, Silva, Cazorla etc will score heavily over the season whether or not you decide to constantly pick/drop/rotate or bench them.
                                                            Surely the aim in whatever fantasy game you play is to accumulate as many points as possible? Constantly changing players (i.e. weekly guesses) is counter-productive to the overall aim.
                                                            Therefore, IMO, find a core squad, stick to it without too much tinkering and make necessary adjustments dependant upon form, fixtures, prices etc.
                                                            Of course, I play the Sky game so transfers are limited, but it does help to focus on picking 11 players each week who will a) play and b) score points.

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                                                          • Grumpy Cat
                                                              3 years, 7 months ago

                                                              Jaaskelainen or Begovic?

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                                                              1. La Roja
                                                                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                                                3 years, 7 months ago

                                                                Jussi, better fixture

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                                                            • bring on Real Madrid !
                                                                3 years, 7 months ago

                                                                final word
                                                                fellaini and sess out for 2 mids at 14.8 ?

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                                                              • massive
                                                                  3 years, 7 months ago

                                                                  See everyone is talking about Mata. Anyone keen on Hazard instead? I will have 9,5 to spend and could afford any of them as well as Bale. Already have Santi and Silva and just want to make up my mind. Have a feeling about Hazard going wild once again but have to do it tonight as McAnuf is falling and will lose 0,1. So any thoughts of getting the not-so-popular-now Hazard?

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                                                                  1. Mazza
                                                                      3 years, 7 months ago

                                                                      Don't worry about losing 0.1. Wait.

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                                                                      1. massive
                                                                          3 years, 7 months ago

                                                                          Yes but if I have waited I would have not been able to buy a player for more than 9,4 as McAnuff went down. I took Hazard, hope he explodes. :)

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                                                                    • AbhiDDA
                                                                        3 years, 7 months ago

                                                                        Dempsey or mata!????

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