Jose Mourinho explains Juan Mata absence against West Ham

Jose Mourinho defends his decision to use Juan Mata sparingly for Chelsea in recent weeks ahead of Basel clash

juan mata
Juan Mata signed for Chelsea from Valencia in August 2011 Photo: The Sport Review

Jose Mourinho has defended his decision to use Juan Mata sparingly in recent weeks, insisting that his hand is being forced by the competitiveness in his Chelsea squad.

The Spain international was an unused substitute at West Ham United on Saturday as the Blues ran out 3-0 winner at Upton Park.

Mata, 25, has been limited to just five starts in the Premier League this season under Mourinho, despite being one of the Blues’ standout performers since arriving from Valencia.

But speaking ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday, the Portuguese coach insisted that the quality at his disposal makes giving all of his stars game-time an impossible task.

“I can’t start matches with 12, 13 or 14 players which I would love to do because many people deserve to play and Juan is one of them, with the way he works, the way he behaves and the way we see him every day,” said Mourinho, whose side can book their place in the last 16 with a point in Switzerland.

“But if I played him people would be asking me about not playing [Eden] Hazard or Oscar and for these three positions behind the striker we have so many options.

“Against West Ham I left out Mata who is an international for Spain, I left out [Andre] Schurrle who is an international for Germany, [Kevin] De Bruyne who was probably the best Belgian player in the qualification group.

“I left out Willian who has just played for Brazil the last two matches, so it is a good problem for me but it is hard for them and it is hard for me because I don’t have pleasure when I leave them out.”

Basel v Chelsea: Pre-match facts

• Basel are unbeaten on their travels this season, a run of 15 games. Both their defeats have come at home.

• Chelsea were 29 home group stage games unbeaten prior to their 2-1 loss to Basel on matchday one.

• Basel have lost four of their ten home fixtures against English opposition with three wins and three draws. Their only victory in their last four home games was a significant one – the 2-1 success over Manchester United on matchday six of the 2011-2 Champions League enabling them to qualify for the knockout rounds at their opponents’ expense.

• The Blues have drawn 49 games in Uefa competition, winning 100.

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