Gary Neville believes Juan Mata could find himself back on the bench for Manchester United’s game against Liverpool at Anfield next weekend because Louis van Gaal will need more pace in his team for a counter-attacking formation.
Mata earned plenty of praise for his performance against Tottenham Hotspur and rightfully so because he was very influential despite the fact it had been two months since his last Premier League start.
However, when you look at the tactics van Gaal used away to Arsenal, you realise the explosive nature of a counter-attack doesn’t suit Mata’s natural game of slow, intricate football. In that scenario, Di Maria’s style would be much better suited.
It’s for that reason Neville feels van Gaal could opt to bring Di Maria immediately back into his starting XI as he expects United to line-up in a counter-attacking style.
GNev: "I think Di Maria might come in over Mata at Anfield for pace on the counter but I'm certain Fellaini will play."
— The Peoples Person (@PeoplesPerson_) March 15, 2015
You’d be surprised if United didn’t set-up on the counter-attack at Anfield. With Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney and Di Maria hitting on the counter, van Gaal’s side would have plenty of pace but including Mata in that trio would limit its threat on the break.
It all depends what tactics van Gaal decides to use at Anfield. If van Gaal opts to chase possession then Mata will be one of the first names on the team-sheet but if he sets his side up in a similar style to what he did at the Emirates, it’s hard to see a spot where Mata fits in.