With five goals and a host of impressive performances, it’s been another strong week for a group of Chelsea loanees who have had a largely impressive season.
Daniel Sturridge and Fabio Borini both found the back of the net again, but not many will have predicted Jeffrey Bruma scoring his first senior goal from 30 yards out, and even fewer will have called him following it up with another later in the same game.
In a packed schedule due to the traditional Easter weekend fixtures, we’ll start with Sturridge, who scored his seventh goal in nine outings for Bolton Wanderers and in doing so did his parent club a big favour in defeating Arsenal.
Tamir Cohen’s stoppage-time header was the clincher but Sturridge had given the Trotters a first-half lead when he reacted quickest to Gary Cahill’s header, which had been blocked on the line.
The England Under-21 striker has seen his goals come from a wide range of finishes and showed a poacher’s instinct to nod home. You can see his effort here.
Chelsea’s two other Premier League loanees went head to head at Molineux on Saturday, and whilst both Michael Mancienne and Gael Kakuta started on the bench, they both saw playing time in the 1-1 draw.
Mancienne featured for just over half an hour in what was his first senior outing since December 4th. A knee injury effectively ruined his season but he looked sharp and will be pushing for a starting berth in the final weeks of the season.
Kakuta saw ten minutes on the right of the Fulham attack and injected enthusiasm and verve to their approach, testing Wayne Hennessey with a fiercely struck effort on his weaker right foot.
His playing time has not been what Chelsea fans would have hoped, but in each of his cameo displays for the Cottagers, he has shown that he can make an impact in spells in this division, and that’s certainly a positive to take.
The Football League saw a double-header of action over the weekend, and whilst Saturday was a largely quiet affair, Monday was a different story.
Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea team still harbour dreams of an automatic promotion berth but with that unlikely, they picked up four points which will secured a playoff place.
A goalless draw at Portsmouth on Saturday saw Fabio Borini booked and substituted in the final minute, but two days later at home – where the Swans are a much better team – they put Ipswich to the sword with the Italian netting twice in a 4-1 win.
He opened the scoring in the ninth minute, moving intelligently onto Stephen Dobbie’s pass before thrashing the ball past Arran Lee-Barratt.
After Luke Moore and Colin Healy had exchanged goals, Borini added his second, and sixth in as many games for the club. Moore’s shot was spilled by the Ipswich goalkeeper and from less than a yard out, Swansea’s centre forward bundled the ball home.
He was taken off at half time to allow some well-earned rest ahead of the final two weeks of the campaign, before the playoffs begin. He will be an integral part of their plans in the chase for a Premier League place.
Whilst Borini’s spell in South Wales has been all smiles, Jeffrey Bruma has had less fun at Leicester City. Some shaky defensive performances – both on his part and from the team as a whole – put pay to any aspirations of a top six finish, but the Dutchman responded well on Monday against Watford with two net-busting goals.
He lined up in the heart of defence in an East Midlands derby against Nottingham Forest on Good Friday and was less than impressive in a 3-2 defeat.
Moved into midfield for the clash at the Walker’s Stadium against the Hornets to accomodate the returning Patrick van Aanholt – who sat out Friday’s match completely – he started in less than auspicious fashion according to reports.
Four minutes before the break though, Bruma held off a challenge well outside the box before drilling a low shot past Scott Loach to open his professional account.
It was a stylish finish, but one he would comprehensively better in the second half. Picking the ball up some thirty yards from goal, he unleashed a howitzer of an effort which screamed into the top corner, a certain goal of the season contender.
Whilst it’s far from enough to change opinion, it was his strongest performance for the Foxes, and his first victory to boot. Van Aanholt, meanwhile, had a quiet game and will have played better.
Jacob Mellis played an hour away to Watford and then the same at home to Doncaster but with the Tykes safe for another season, neither fixture took on a great importance.
The midfielder went close to scoring on three occasions in the second of the two fixtures but was not able to add to his two goals whilst on loan at Oakwell.
Ben Gordon has been unable to get into new manager Alan Knill’s starting eleven since he replaced Ian Baraclough at Glanford Park, and he played a grand total of one minute over the holiday weekend.
A point at Coventry followed by defeat at home to Millwall mean that the Iron need a massive swing in goal difference to avoid relegation, and despite a brief upturn in form of late, they will be playing League One football next season.
As will Sheffield United unless they perform a similarly miraculous turnaround. Daniel Philliskirk has spent the last four months on an extended trial at the club and has agreed to join them permanently when his Chelsea contract expires in the summer.
He made his Blades debut last weekend against Preston, saw stoppage time action against Bristol City and was unused away to Reading. The midfielder will be more important next season, when a much younger United team take on the challenge of bouncing back from relegation at the first time of asking.
In a busy week, Jack Cork played three times, and was present for every moment of Burnley’s wins against Middlesbrough and Derby, and their draw at home to Portsmouth.
Cork looks set to stay at Turf Moor permanently at the end of the season but with just two games to go, he and his teammates will be none the wiser as to where they’ll be playing their football.
They sit two points out of the final playoff place and with Leeds and Cardiff remaining on the slate, Eddie Howe’s boys will have to go some to extend their season into late May.
In League Two, Rhys Taylor too his seasonal appearance tally to 47 with outings against Morecambe and Wycombe, but the results – a win and a loss – were indicative of the inconsistency which has blighted Alex’s season.
The Welshman was unable to prevent Garry Hunter’s goal for Morecambe, a sharp turn and finish inside the box, and was once again let down by some poor defending at Adams Park two days later, despite saving his fourth penalty of the season.
Taylor started brightly at Gresty Road but the team have conceded a remarkable 64 goals this season and have looked frail at the back for months.
He will undoubtedly be keen to leave in two games’ time after being on the receiving end of some unnecessary stick from the home fans, but some have taken the time to note that with little support from those in front of him or in the dugout, his season has been made all the tougher.
Down at Barnet, however, Sam Walker and company could still achieve the improbable. A win at Gillingham followed by a draw with Oxford leave the Bees a single point off safety, and the young goalkeeper is unbeaten at Underhill in five outings.
He will be disappointed with the manner in which he conceded one goal in each match but is nonetheless a key part of an unlikely revival which may yet have a fairytale ending.
In Holland, Slobodan Rajkovic remains sidelined with a back injury which in all likelihood will end his season, whilst Matej Delac was on the bench as per usual in a 4-2 Vitesse loss away to FC Utrecht.
Jhon Pirez was not in Defensor’s matchday squad for their 3-0 win over Racing Club, but Lucas Piazon found the back of the net in Under-17 action for São Paulo.