Ex-Red Louis Saha says a burgeoning understanding between Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata is integral to dynamic United attacks, at Arsenal and beyond...
Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata are world-class players and if they combine as their natural talent dictates they will, we will get creativity and goals, and that's been the one downside of the last few months. We need more chances and more creativity up front and Mata is a player to introduce that.
As a striker, you enjoy playing in front of footballers like Mata. Someone of that calibre gives you confidence that when you time your run he is going to give you the ball nine times out of 10. You have the belief that you will hurt defences and disrupt their confidence because with one pass, one great bit of play, you can change a match. Those two aspects – the playmaker who is able to make a pass and the forward who can get through the lines of defence – is really important to us and the way we have to break teams down.
Mata could bring the best out of Rooney, too. It's a natural part of Wayne's game to drop deep to get the ball – he's an intelligent footballer like that. But Mata takes up those deeper positions, even when drifting in from the flank, so hopefully Rooney can put all his focus on staying high up the field and combining with van Persie, where they really affect the game.
That combination up front is crucial to the team and when they combine well it puts pressure on the opposition in key areas. If you've got that, defenders and midfielders are concentrating on those two players and it allows the playmaker time and space to break the lines of defence with great passes and creativity. Mata possesses the quality to do that and so the combination between those three players can make a big difference for United. The way those three interact on the field, the way they move and combine, will draw the opposition centre-backs out of position, so someone can break through and make a good run at the right time.