After two or three weeks of transfer window activity and impactful performances, things quietened down this week on the loan front with a handful of names taking more of a backseat role after hitting the headlines throughout January. There are, however, two new names to cover from now on.
Excitement over Kevin De Bruyne’s €9m arrival may have been tempered by the fact he is unlikely to be seen in a blue shirt in the near future, but a Chelsea player he is nonetheless, and his first game ‘back’ at Genk (officially now only on loan) was away to table-topping Anderlecht.
The hosts prevailed 4-2 and De Bruyne had a quiet game by his standards, perhaps in part due to an ankle injury he picked up in the first half.
Milan Lalkovic joined the ever-increasing ranks of Chelsea youngsters heading to pastures temporarily new as he swapped English shores for the Netherlands and ADO Den Haag.
Sporting Director Michael Emenalo has struck up a working relationship with the club in recent weeks and Lalkovic will spend the remainder of the season in the Eredivise, joining Nigerian centre-back Kenneth Omeruo, who signed from Standard Liege and is being loaned out due to not possessing a UK work permit.
Neither was able to make their debut this weekend, however, as their match against AZ Alkmaar fell foul of the snowy weather impacting much of Europe.
Vitesse’s match at the Gelredome against NAC Breda did get the go-ahead though, and Patrick van Aanholt made his first start since joining the club earlier this month. He joined regular centre-back Tomas Kalas in the back four and helped record a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory.
The third Blues youngster in Arnhem, Mexican winger Ulises Dávila, played ninety minutes for Jong Vitesse on Monday night away to Groningen, where they lost 4-0. He will likely spend the remainder of the season with their reserve team.
Thibaut Courtois continues to impress and remains perfect in 2012 as he recorded a fifth consecutive clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Valencia on Sunday evening. Valencia could only muster one shot on target but Courtois dealt with it as he has dealt with everything all season; perfectly.
In France, Gael Kakuta was an unused substitute for Dijon, who went down 2-1 at home to Valenciennes. Manager Patrice Carteron has spoken of how the young attacking midfielder needs to become more consistent and ‘flash’ less, but chose not to use him this weekend after a less than impressive showing off the bench away to Lyon the week before.
Whilst Kakuta missed out on merit (or lack of it), Jeffrey Bruma was absent from Hamburg’s 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich after picking up a minor injury during training earlier in the week. The match was notable for a first senior goal by former Chelsea reserve team winger Jacopo Sala.
Kilmarnock’s Scottish Cup tie away to Hibernian, meanwhile, was one of the few to survive the weather north of the border but it will not be a double knockout competition celebration for Ben Gordon and company this season.
Whilst Killie await Celtic in the final of the Scottish League Cup, they were knocked out after losing 1-0 at Easter Road on Saturday. Gordon duly completed 90 minutes and there appears to be no reason – injury permitting – to think he won’t continue to do so until the end of the season.
In England, whilst there was a double helping of action across the country this week, neither Josh McEachran or Sam Walker played more than once. McEachran was ineligible on Tuesday night as Swansea City hosted his parent club Chelsea, and he was on the bench for their 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
He remained unused and watched as Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson – playing in his stead – scored one and made the other as the Swans turned a 1-0 deficit into another impressive three points. There will undoubtedly be opportunities for Josh to play between now and May, but he will have to bide his time in the short-term.
Walker and Yeovil only had a weekend fixture away to Sheffield Wednesday and the giant stopper celebrated signing a new contract at Stamford Bridge with a strong personal performance despite the Glovers losing 2-1.
Gary Johnson’s side dominated the first half and deservedly held a 1-0 lead but an outstanding long-range effort from Jemal Johnson tied the scores before a Reda Johnson winner kept all three points in Yorkshire. Johnson pounced after a superb reflex save by Walker denied Clinton Morrison from close range, one of a handful of saves from a young man continuing to grow as a professional footballer.
Rhys Taylor had no action as Rotherham’s home match against Torquay United was postponed, leaving just Matej Delac to check up on. He sat on the bench for Ceske Budejovice’s latest winter break friendly, a 4-1 defeat away to Red Bull Salzburg. They return to league action in a fortnight.