We hit the 100 goal mark from the Chelsea Loan Army this week, with Lewis Baker front and centre in guiding Vitesse to another significant milestone.
It’s been no secret around Arnhem that the main focus this season is the Dutch Cup. Without a major trophy in their 127-year history, Vitesse found themselves in the last four along with three other sides they would consider themselves favourites to beat, although a single-legged Semi Final away to Sparta Rotterdam presented more of a test than it might have appeared on paper.
Enter Baker. A goal in either half with either foot secured their place in the appropriately-named KNVB Beker Final at the end of April, where they will face AZ Alkmaar for not just what would be their first significant honour, but a guaranteed place in the Europa League Group Stages next season.
Baker has scored or assisted in every round and has a competition-high five goals, good enough for 14 in all competitions, and his latest two brought up the 100 mark a full three weeks faster than the 2013-14 class did when they reached 125. Matt Miazga was impressive in central defence again, but Nathan was quiet and lasted just an hour before being substituted.
They then suffered something of a hangover on Saturday, going down 3-1 to PEC Zwolle in league action, a defeat that saw them drop out of the European Playoff places. Miazga was the only one to play the full ninety, with Baker replaced by Mukhtar Ali for his biggest chunk of playing time so far, whilst Nathan was an unused substitute.
Injuries are afflicting roughly one-third of the loan army right now, and it comes as no surprise that Loic Remy is again on the treatment table and unable to feature for Crystal Palace.
Kasey Palmer remains sidelined too, but Izzy Brown was back for Huddersfield – after being rested for their FA Cup exit away to Man City – to take on Newcastle in a massive promotion match at the top of the Championship. He was probably Town’s best player on the day, but was repeatedly fouled (three different Newcastle players were booked for challenges on him) and ended up on the losing side by a 2-1 scoreline.
Christian Atsu started that match after impressing away to Brighton earlier in the week in another huge clash at the top of the table. He was up against Fikayo Tomori for the majority of that one as the England Under-20 defender was pressed into early action due to injury. He was initially shaky against the experienced Ghanaian international before playing himself into the game more, but Atsu had the last laugh, laying on a late winner to strengthen Newcastle’s hold over top spot.
Tomas Kalas helped Fulham keep up their strong home record with a 3-1 win over Preston, with Lucas Piazon out with a broken jaw, and Tammy Abraham is still out with a thigh problem for relegation-troubled Bristol City but is edging closer to a return. City haven’t scored in three of the four games he’s missed, and they’re getting desperate.
In League One, Swindon put together consecutive 3-1 wins as they defeated Gillingham 3-1 on Tuesday, with Charlie Colkett providing two set-piece assists.
However, he missed their weekend defeat to Gillingham through injury, whilst team-mate Fankaty Dabo missed both through a knock picked up against the Daniel Sturridge Academy in a friendly. Islam Feruz was twice left out on merit.
Jay Dasilva did finally see some action for Charlton – his first in more than six weeks – as a late substitute in their 4-3 defeat at Shrewsbury, but was unused again in a 2-1 defeat at Northampton on Saturday.
Wycombe ended their recent bad run in League Two, drawing 2-2 at Accrington in midweek before winning 2-1 away to Grimsby with Jamal Blackman in goal for both matches. Alex Kiwomya started both of Crewe’s matches too, a 4-0 defeat at Hartlepool followed by a more impressive 1-0 away win against Portsmouth.
Nathan Baxter kept a fifth clean sheet in eight appearances for Solihull Moors in a goalless draw away to Dover Athletic.
Neither Jeremie Boga nor Victorien Angban were part of Granada’s squad for the win over Alavés on Saturday. What a waste of time those moves have been.
Juan Cuadrado was at the centre of controversy in midweek Coppa Italia action when he won a penalty for Juventus against Napoli, going down under a challenge by Pepe Reina that the visitors felt was clearly a mistake. A half-time substitute in that match, he then started away to Udinese on Sunday but couldn’t help them to a win, the 1-1 draw instead bringing an end to a nine-match winning run in all competitions.
Mario Pašalić was an unused substitute as Milan beat Chievo.
There were two games and two wins for Andreas Christensen this week: the first a 2-1 triumph at Hamburg in the German Cup, the second a 4-2 win over Schalke to lift Borussia Mönchengladbach into the top half of the table. He was rested with eight minutes remaining in the latter after a fourth straight week of double-headers.
Michael Hector retained his place at centre-back for Eintracht Frankfurt but, despite playing the full match, couldn’t help them avoid a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Freiburg.
Bertrand Traore had a quiet hour for Ajax against Groningen before being substituted, whilst Marco van Ginkel (injured) and Danilo Pantic (suspended) were absent for PSV and Excelsior respectively.
Rejoice! There was a rare win and even rarer clean sheet for Matej Delač and Mouscron on Saturday as they beat Standard Liege 1-0 to move within two points of Westerlo at the foot of the Belgian Pro League. With one round of fixtures left until the complicated league split, the right sequence of results next weekend could be the difference between relegation or, somehow, a shot at Europa League qualification.
Sint-Truiden’s 2-1 win over Eupen guaranteed a shot at the latter, albeit with Cristian Cuevas only playing a few seconds as a stoppage-time substitute.
Kenneth Omeruo played the entirety of Alanyaspor’s 2-1 reverse away to Istanbul BB.
Miro Muheim still hasn’t appeared in a matchday squad for FC Zurich.
Wallace made his first appearance for Gremio in more than a month when handed a start for their Serie A match at home to Ceará, getting 80 minutes in a 1-1 draw.
Joao Rodriguez is still out injured for Cortuluá.