After a hectic couple of weeks on the loan front, things have calmed down somewhat this week. Still, it’s been a largely positive seven days for young Chelsea players, so let’s take a look.
With the weekend being lost to FA Cup action, it meant a significant drop-off in playing time all round, particularly at the top level. Daniel Sturridge and Gael Kakuta were both ineligible to play for Bolton and Fulham respectively (who went head to head at Craven Cottage) due to third round involvement for the Blues against Ipswich, whilst Kakuta also missed out in midweek as his current club played host to his parent club.
Sturridge was also ineligible for Owen Coyle’s team’s win at Wigan five days earlier in the same competition.
Michael Mancienne remains injured, and was therefore unavailable for the Black Country derby against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. There is still no timescale for his expected return.
There was a slate of football league action throughout the week however, starting on Tuesday night with Jack Cork for Burnley. The Clarets earned a draw away to Cardiff in a clash of promotion contenders in South Wales, with the England Under-21 man playing well in midfield.
The following night, Ben Gordon made his home debut for Scunthorpe, and helped pull off a remarkable result in beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 at Glanford Park. That was followed by another clean sheet against an East Midlands outfit in a goalless draw with Derby on Saturday, meaning the Iron have conceded just one goal in Gordon’s three outings.
The Yorkshireman has settled in well and has, in manager Ian Baraclough, the guidance of a man who played over 600 career games as a left-back in the English football leagues. He has settled into life at a higher level (than the Scottish Premier League) quickly and will be confident going forward.
Another man who has settled well at a level higher than he has previously played is Jacob Mellis. After an indifferent spell at Southampton last season, Mellis has quickly established himself as a key performer at Barnsley, but was unable to score his third goal in as many games as the Tykes fell 1-0 to Portsmouth on Saturday.
Mark Robins’ side struggled to assert themselves on proceedings but Mellis went close with a flashing drive from the edge of the box and looked as likely as anyone in red to grab a goal. He was booked and withdrawn three minutes from time in favour of an extra striker.
Dutch duo Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Bruma saw Friday night action for Leicester, who clinched a 2-1 win over Bristol City with an injury time goal from Martyn Waghorn.
Van Aanholt completed the whole match, playing well at left-back and being handed set piece duty. He attempted to clear the Bristol City equaliser from off the line but was unsuccessful, whilst otherwise he looked his typical self – good going forward, learning defensively.
Bruma, meanwhile, sat on the bench, playing second fiddle to Sol Bamba and Ben Mee.
With Daniel Philliskirk not featuring for Sheffield United’s first team at all, we move onto League One, where Conor Clifford celebrated his first start for Notts County with an assist and a strong display in a 2-0 win over Colchester. It was Clifford’s corner which was inexplicably headed past his own goalkeeper by Nathan Clarke to help Paul Ince’s team to three vital points.
Conor was unavailble to play in County’s 5-0 trouncing at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday, however, as he was not registered to play for the club before the original meeting, and was thus precluded from featuring in the replay.
In League Two, Crewe’s form continues to plummet, with another defeat suffered late in the day at home to Stevenage. Scott Laird’s 87th minute winner came in controversial fashion, as goalkeeper Rhys Taylor was bundled into from a corner, but the goal was allowed to stand by the officiating team.
The nature of the goal will, unfortunately, give support to the Alex fans who firmly believe that Steve Phillips should be keeping goal instead of Chelsea’s young Welshman.
In Holland, Albert Ferrer’s Vitesse secured three important points at home to De Graafschap, helped along by a late goal from Nemanja Matic.
The Serb – who remains in Holland until the end of the season but is now Benfica property – added to Bony Wilfried’s opener to lift the Eredivise strugglers out of the relegation places at the expense of Feyenoord.
Slobodan Rajkovic once again captained the team, whilst Matej Delac continued as an unused substitute.
The Croatian stopper gave an interview to his national press earlier this week, and explained that whilst a lack of playing time is frustrating, Chelsea are not too concerned at the moment:
“Once a month the goalkeeping coach comes to visit and is very pleased with my progress. He said I shouldn’t panic. For now, there’s no talk of moving to London.”
As usual, we finish in Uruguay. Jhon Pirez is in Defensor Sporting’s squad for Sunday night’s match with Cerro, which you can catch news of on Twitter @chelseayouth.