As I was writing up my thoughts on the Jacob Mellis situation, a tweet from Opta caught my eye:
Now, I don't take 'chances created' particularly seriously, because it's a stat which purports to know a lot more than it does (and therefore so too do the people who use it), but Juan Mata being at the top of the league in a statistic that's only partially useful is still interesting. Second, according to Twitter, is David Silva, Mata's direct equivalent at tonight's opponent, Manchester City.
The two share some pretty obvious similarities. They're Spanish, came to the Premier League from Valencia, and play the same position in the same way, mostly finding themselves cutting inside from the left to act as the key creative hubs of their team. But just how similar are they? Let's take a look...
There's a fun game that baseball writers play called 'player A and player B', where you look at a player's stat lines and then try to figure out who's who. If we do that with Mata and Silva, and switch the states to minutes per event to maintain some semblance of mystery, we get the following:
In our case, there's not much point in playing our little game - David Silva and Juan Mata (A and B, if you really want to know) are, statistically, having virtually indistinguishable seasons. Considering that the former is regarded as being one of the very top players in the Premier League, that's a really happy thing for Chelsea fans. What's even more impressive is that it's not really fair to Mata.
David Silva is two years older than Mata and in his second full season in the league, one that's notoriously difficult to adapt to. What happens when we compare Silva's first year to Mata's?
That's looking even better for Mata. David Silva took a major jump from his first year to his second in order to reach the level Mata is at now, and although we can't expect a similar improvement from our favourite creator, it does put in perspective just how strong his first season has been. Adjusting to the Premier League as quickly as Mata has is an impressive accomplishment indeed.