The Spanish playmaker has become a firm favourite in West London since signing from Valencia two years ago.
Mata has admitted that he is flattered by any comparison to Zola and still believes he can improve on a strong start to his Premier League career.
He told The Guardian: "[Zola] was so good, so talented, just magic to watch. To be considered like him in any way makes me so happy.
"But Gianfranco Zola achieved a lot more than I've done so far in my career. What he did here, the reputation he has here, is something I'd like to try to emulate.
"Everything I do is about improvement. Last season went so well for me, my first at the club after changing everything: my life, my football, from the Spanish league to the Premier League. But it's stepped up again since."
The 24-year-old has 18 goals in all competitions this season as Chelsea continue to fight on three fronts.