One of the quietest weeks in the Chelsea Loan Army season threatened to bring an end to a season-long streak where every single full week of the club campaign had featured at least one goal scored by a loanee, but Andreas Christensen saw to that late on Sunday afternoon. We lead off with him in a week where several others made long-anticipated returns from injury.
Christensen himself had picked up a knock last weekend that ruled him out of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s midweek Europa League tie, but he was duly restored to the line-up for the Bundesliga trip to Hamburg on Sunday, and wasted little time in making an impact, netting for the third time this season with a powerful first-half header.
Oscar Wendt står för en fin assist när Christensen ger Mönchengladbach ledningen pic.twitter.com/7q0Mo64yH8
— Eurosport Sverige (@EurosportSE) March 12, 2017
It wasn’t enough to secure victory though, HSV running out 2-1 winners.
With little of note happening elsewhere in loan-land, it was also a memorable weekend for Matej Delač at Mouscron. Marooned to the bottom of the Belgian Pro League table – the only spot carrying a relegation place – for months, two wins and two clean sheets in the final two rounds of the regular season were enough to move above Westerlo – themselves a one-time Chelsea affiliate – and consign them to relegation instead.
— Royal Excel Mouscron (@ExcelMouscron) March 12, 2017
Instead of having their campaign end in March ahead of a 2017-18 spent in the second tier, Mouscron now improbably enter a complicated playoff stage in which they could ultimately qualify for the Europa League. That won’t happen, but they’ll take that over relegation!
FA Cup Quarter Final weekend meant a curtailed Premier League schedule and therefore no fixture for Crystal Palace or Loic Remy.
In the Championship, Tammy Abraham made his return from a recent thigh injury and it spurred on a first Bristol City win in eight games. He lasted the full ninety minutes too, and with the Robins now out of the relegation zone, they’ll be looking towards their talismanic striker to finish his exceptional stay at the club with the goals to ensure their survival in the final nine matches.
At the other end of the table, Chelsea players remain firmly involved in the race for promotion to the Premier League. Newcastle are top with Christian Atsu having played his part, although he was only a second-half substitute in midweek away to Reading before remaining unused in Saturday’s home defeat to a Fulham side featuring the ever-impressive Tomas Kalas.
The Czech stalwart played his part in that 3-1 triumph, holding his own against the league’s second-leading goalscorer in Dwight Gayle just four days after doing the same against 22-goal Leeds forward Chris Wood at Craven Cottage. Lucas Piazon, meanwhile, has been cleared to start non-contact training from Monday as he makes his way back from a broken jaw.
Brighton are level with Newcastle on 77 points and there was 25 minutes for Fikayo Tomori in a 3-0 win over Derby on Friday. That came at the expense of the injured Bruno, and with the Seagulls facing a defensive injury crisis, their England Under-20 loanee could become an increasingly pivotal figure.
Huddersfield Town remain in the hunt in third after a pair of 1-0 wins this week, Izzy Brown starting against Aston Villa and then coming on as a sub away to Brentford in a bid to keep him fresh, whilst Kasey Palmer remains absent for the next couple of weeks due to his ongoing hamstring issues.
In League One, Swindon welcomed Charlie Colkett back after a slight knock for their 3-2 defeat at Port Vale, but Fankaty Dabo continues to convalesce from his own ailments whilst Islam Feruz missed out again due to loanee matchday limits. Jay Dasilva was an unused substitute for Charlton twice more, but there was better news over at Bristol Rovers as Jake Clarke-Salter made his return from a broken arm and dislocated elbow suffered back in November by coming on as a late sub in a 2-0 win over Southend.
In League Two, Wycombe’s 0-0 draw at home to Blackpool provided Jamal Blackman with a 13th clean sheet of the season, and one he deserved too, saving a penalty to win the Man of the Match award.
— Wycombe Wanderers (@wwfcofficial) March 13, 2017
They still harbour hopes of a playoff place, but for Alex Kiwomya and Crewe, a relegation battle is now a very realistic possibility after they lost 2-1 at home to bottom-placed Newport on Saturday.
In the National League, Nathan Baxter picked the ball out of his net three times in the first half but still ended up with a share of the spoils as Solihull Moors claimed a 3-3 draw at home to Braintree.
Jeremie Boga was handed a rare start and an even rarer ninety minutes for an improved Granada in a narrow, late home defeat by Atlético Madrid on Saturday. Victorien Angban was not in the squad, but the pair did sit down with Sid Lowe this past week to offer an insight into their life at the club this year.
— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) March 13, 2017
Juventus took on Milan on Saturday night without the suspended Juan Cuadrado but still ran out 2-1 winners, despite the best efforts of Mario Pašalić, who was restored to the visitors’ starting eleven and played 70 minutes.
A year ago this week Michael Hector was on the losing side for Reading against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup. This weekend he lined up in defence for Eintracht Frankfurt away to Bayern Munich and turned in a credible ninety-minute performance despite the inevitable 3-0 defeat to the runaway Bundesliga leaders.
A good weekend for Vitesse began with a 5-0 thumping of Sparta Rotterdam and finished with favourable results elsewhere that bumped them up to fifth in the Eredivisie. Lewis Baker, Nathan and Matt Miazga all started, with Nathan claiming an assist for Navarone Foor’s goal and Miazga proving faultless at the back once again, perhaps playing himself into being Guram Kashia’s partner for the rest of the season. Mukhtar Ali saw 20 minutes as a sub in the second half.
Bertrand Traore had a busy but ultimately fruitless hour for Ajax before making way – as he tends to do now – for Justin Kluivert in a home win over Twente, whilst Marco van Ginkel was an unused substitute due to injury as PSV won comfortably against Go Ahead Eagles. Danilo Pantic remains suspended for Excelsior.
Cristian Cuevas played all ninety minutes for Sint-Truiden in a 2-2 draw at Club Brugge and they join Mouscron and seven other teams in the Europa League playoff stage now.
An unfortunate Kenneth Omeruo scored a second own goal of the season on Friday as Alanyaspor were beaten 3-2 at home by Fenerbahce.
FC Zurich travel to Aarau on Monday night but Miro Muheim isn’t expected to make his debut.
Wallace played no part for Gremio away to Zamora in midweek Copa Libertadores action.
Joao Rodriguez made his comeback from a recent knee injury as a 61st-minute substitute for Cortuluá at home to Deportes Tolima.