Nemanja Matic finally got off the mark this past weekend scoring his first goal for Chelsea in the 6-3 demolition of Everton. It’s only fitting that it’s time to have a look at the impact Matic has had on the field since his return to the club in January. Before Matic was brought last season, Chelsea employed Ramires and Mikel/Lampard as their two midfielders. Ramires and Lampard were the first choice pairing for the first half of the season; neither is holding players and this led to a lack of balance in the Chelsea team until Matic’s arrival.
It’s clear that this was a hole in the team Mourinho had identified. John Obi Mikel wasn’t good enough to make that role his. So, Chelsea spent £20m bringing the Serbian back to Stamford Bridge. His impact was devastating, immediately he added a new dimension to Chelsea’s play. It’s no surprise that Chelsea were a much stronger outfit in the second half of the season. They may also have reached a Champions League final if he didn’t find himself cup tied.
Matic laid down a marker earlier, quickly underlying his credentials in his first start away at Manchester City. He was voted man of the match as Chelsea impressively won 1-0 and was heavily praised for the manner in which he stifled his opposite number Yaya Toure. Fans were used to seeing Toure single handily bully teams with sheer brute force but it came as a surprise as Matic went toe to toe with the Ivorian and eventually getting the better of him. He showcased all of his qualities that night at the Etihad, letting the Premier League know just what he is about. Another big game were Matic’s ability was illustrated was in the 6-0 thrashing of Arsenal were Matic simply overpowered Arsenal’s midfield. Not only is he combative, he is great on the ball also, he has an eye for a pass and can also strike a ball as well; he is complete defensive midfielder.
Matic quietly goes about his business and shamefully doesn’t get the credit he deserves. The ex Benfica man is a vital cog in this Chelsea side and Mourinho knows it: “He is not the kind of guy to play any square passes. He can do so and keep possession, but he can see the movement forward, look at the passing into space. He is very clean. He recovers a lot of balls in a clean way; he doesn’t make fouls in dangerous positions. I like him a lot because of his stability. He is a very stable player for someone who is still so young, only 25”.
Matic proved to be the first signing in Chelsea’s rebuilding process under Mourinho. This season Matic has struck up a great relationship with Fabregas, together have provided Chelsea a perfect balance in the centre of midfield as the two complement each other well. Matic is arguably Chelsea’s most important player as his role is essential to the team.