Juan Mata and Jose Mourinho
Mata has played a peripheral role this season.

Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant is at a loss to explain why Jose Mourinho is refusing to select Juan Mata on a consistent basis this season.

The Spaniard has won the club's player of the year award in each of the last two seasons inspiring The Blues to Champions League and Europa League success in successive campaigns.

But since the return of Mourinho as manager Mata has been an outcast at Chelsea, having made just three appearances this term - a plight accentuated by his omission from the squad which beat Fulham - and Grant has questioned the Portuguese manager's judgement.

"I personally don't understand (why he left Mata out)," Grant told BBC Radio Five Live.

"But in this position Chelsea have so many players, so if Oscar, Eden Hazard, or Willian are out people will ask why they are out of the squad or team.

"Mata was one of the best players in the midfield in the last year.

"A manager needs to take a decision and in this case it's a tough decision. Jose will know how to manage them well."

"He's a great player, he's won games, gave assists and scored goals," he added.

"Chelsea have many players in this position, maybe one more than they need, but that can also be an advantage."

Mourinho has claimed that footballing reasons are behind Mata's continued marginalisation at Chelsea and that he still has a role to play at Stamford Bridge.

Oscar was chosen ahead of Mata against Fulham and scored the opener as Chelsea recovered from two successive losses but questions over the former Valencia midfielder's role persist.

"I understand that lots of people like very much Mata and believe that he should be in that position. I believe the evolution of the team is to play with Oscar and Mata together, but one has to adapt for that to happen," Mourinho said.

"Oscar as a number 10 gives us creativity, but when we want to press, Oscar is a runner and we have our idea. We stick with our idea. I respect you a lot. The Chelsea manager is Jose Mourinho.

"Juan has to learn to play the way I want to play. He has to be more consistent, has to be more participative when the team loses the ball, and I think it is not his fault. It is just a consequence of the way he played in the last few years."