With Wayne Rooney suspended, Mata will get an opportunity to play there having been left out of the team for the past few games.
Prior to him being dropped, Mata was in good form so fans are equally as excited to see how the Spaniard can play in behind Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie for the first time.
“Juan Mata has played very well in his [Rooney’s] position,” Van Gaal told reporters at his pre-match press conference.
“I have to choose. I will miss Wayne because he is the captain of the team but Mata can also play very well.”
Mata was the unfortunate player who Van Gaal felt was dispensable in attack and his decision was somewhat vindicated given how impressive United have played at points in the last three games.
However, many feel Mata’s instinctive nature to thread final balls to attackers could see the likes of Di Maria, Van Persie and Falcao flourish even more as chance creation should be improved with Mata in the side.
As is the case with top teams, there has to be rotation and Mata has been on the wrong end of that in recent weeks but he has now been presented with an opportunity to make it impossible for Van Gaal to drop him, even when Rooney has returned.