Jamie Redknapp and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink say Juan Mata showed why he is so important to Chelsea as the Blues beat Leeds 5-1
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink hailed Juan Mata's display at Leeds, but said Chelsea must keep Frank Lampard.
Last Updated: 20/12/12 9:46am
Leeds got off to a great start, leading 1-0 at half-time thanks to a Luciano Becchio strike, but the Blues bounced back within two minutes of the re-start through Mata and fired in four more second half goals to seal a comprehensive win.
It was a clinical display from the Premier League team who had just returned from the Club World Cup in Japan.
"Chelsea played really well, they kept the ball and got Mata on the ball - and he was the difference," said Hasselbaink.
"He is very intelligent and very good with his little passes and his little runs. Mata was getting so much space and if you give him space he will make you pay, he has got so much quality and he brings other people into the game just through smart movement and touches.
"In the second half Leeds should have stopped [Chelsea keeper Petr] Cech giving the ball to the midfielders. Their strikers were on the centre halves but the midfielders did not really go with their midfielders to make Cech kick and make it more of a fighting game."
Redknapp agreed with the former Blues striker and said Mata showed how important he is to Chelsea on the field, and in the dressing room too.
"Jimmy nailed it on the head, the little man Mata was the difference. He was the maestro and especially on a day when there could have been an upset here.
"Chelsea have had a long trip, it is wet and windy and they went a goal down. It may have been the sort of day where Mata said 'this game is not for me' - but he showed he is a real character and one of the leaders in the dressing room.
"He took the game by the scruff of the neck in that second half. Everything he did had a real quality about it - his first touch passing, he was elusive - Michael Brown and Michael Tonge where trying to get close to him, but his movement and first touch was so good that they could not get near him.
"That goal was so important for the complexion of the game."
Redknapp was also impressed with the performance of Frank Lampard, whose Chelsea contract runs out in six months' time. The experienced midfielder is now 34-years-old but Redknapp believes his performance against Leeds demonstrated he can still contribute to the team.
"Lampard was really important in that team because, while Oscar was probably slightly deeper in his role, Lampard still had to do a disciplined job," he said.
"I cannot believe they are not talking about offering him another contract. He epitomises what Chelsea have done over the last few years, he has won so many trophies and is a great role model for young players coming through.
"He is a senior player who cares for the club. Footballers can sometimes be accused of being mercenaries, going from club to club but Frank has given so much to Chelsea, as have John Terry and Ashley Cole. Why would they not give these guys new contracts? It makes no sense to me."