While the Blues won the Champions League last season, their style was more dogs of war than razzle dazzle and was far from universally admired. However, the mindset has changed to an attacking one this season and to great effect with the club scoring 14 goals in their last six matches.
Former Valencia man Mata has been at the heart of the team’s tactical revolution and insists all credit belongs to manager Di Matteo.
“I think the football we’re playing has taken the club, and my game, to a different level,” the midfield maestro said. “We are playing the kind of football I have always loved to play, with freedom up front, all of us trying to pass and create with quality.”
On the Blues boss, he added: “With me, he always gave me confidence. Of course, when you are playing well you don’t need that. But when you are in a bad moment, you do need it, and Robbie knows when he has to say something and always gave that to me.”
Mata’s confidence belies Chelsea’s recent record against Liverpool, with the club on a four-match league losing streak against the Reds. Although, considering Brendan Rodgers’ side’s sorry start to the season it’s perhaps not surprising.
One of the few bright spots for Rodgers has been the prolific form of striker Luis Suarez, who already has 10 goals to his name. But the manager knows Suarez can’t do it on his own if they’re serious about becoming a force once again.
“Our objective has to be to keep the best players,” he said. “It’s up to us to add players that can help support Luis and move us on.”