Mata reaping rewards of break
Juan Mata believes the benefits of his late summer break are still to bear full fruition, despite already returning to Chelsea in lethal form.
Mata, 24, was handed a two-week break by Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo after the Spain international featured in both Euro 2012 and the Olympics.
The time out is appearing to pay dividends for Chelsea with Mata's match-winner in the 2-1 victory against Arsenal on Saturday continuing his fine vein of form - in his three starts since his return he has scored two goals and provided four assists.
Despite the break, the former Valencia man insists he was actually in a good condition beforehand but acknowledges that the benefits will really start to pay off as the season goes on.
"Not now. Later. Maybe in January, February,'' Mata said. "The season is so long for each player. Maybe these two weeks will be very important for me. We had a talk before the start of the season because, with the Euros and the Olympic Games, it must be a hard summer for me. So I think it was logical.
"Before I had these two weeks, I didn't feel bad. But I think, with so many games in the season, it will be good for me and now I feel very, very good. I think it was a nice break for me. Two weeks resting, trying to get out of football and now I feel really fit. I feel really well as well because of the good run of results for the team. We stayed at the top of the league, so I'm very happy.''
Goalkeeper Petr Cech was full of praise for Di Matteo's decision to rest a player who is now arguably setting the bar for performance levels at the club.
"For us, the important thing is to have Juan Mata for the whole season, not for three months and then to see him burn,'' he said. "That is, I think, what some people could possibly suffer where you play 60 games and you go to the Euros and your team starts the qualifying rounds so early. He can get burnt, easily.
"You need to have a break and it was well done from the coaching staff.''