The Loan Report: February 1-6

So, as it turns out, goals are like buses.

You go through the entire season to date with a handful of efforts converted by Jack Cork and Nemanja Matic, and then within the space of a week a flurry arrive all at once.

This week’s loan round-up sees four goals scored by Chelsea’s youngsters, with others coming close to adding their names to the list in what has been a busy week.

We’ll start at the top with Daniel Sturridge. The young forward has had an interesting ride of late, with his immediate future decided by the signing of Fernando Torres last Monday.

As a result of the Spaniard’s arrival, Sturridge agreed to join Bolton Wanderers for the rest of the season, and as a result of much travelling and little sleep, he started life at the Reebok Stadium on the bench for the midweek clash with Wolves.

Given 23 minutes as a substitute, he immediately became a fan favourite with an injury-time winner. Capitalising on a poor backpass, he showed remarkable composure to delivery a clean, crisp finish on his weaker foot.

‘Studge’ was rewarded with a start on Saturday for the trip to Tottenham, and made it two from two with the equaliser in an eventual 2-1 defeat for Owen Coyle’s men.

Coming in from the right on a counter-attack, he opened his body and placed a low left-footed effort which snuck under the body of Gomes and squirmed across the line.

Whilst one young forward has made immediate waves on loan, another has found the going a little bit tougher. Gael Kakuta made his Fulham debut as a second-half substitute in Wedneday’s 1-0 win over Newcastle, but was an unused sub for the weekend draw at Villa Park.

Playing as a link man between the Cottagers’ four-man midfield and lone striker, Kakuta was lively, having two efforts on goal and delivering a perfect through ball for Clint Dempsey amongst a display of confidence.

However, his lack of involvement – whilst understandable in an in-form side – at Villa will be concerning to Chelsea. Fulham’s next two fixtures see them take on Gael’s parent club before heading into cup action, where he is cup tied.

Therefore, the earliest we’ll be able to see him in a white shirt now is on the 28th of the month, away to Manchester City.

Michael Mancienne remains injured with a knee problem and no timetable for a return to the Wolves side.

Dropping down a division, Chelsea gained two new representatives in the Championship, and after a bedding in match apiece, they went head to head on Saturday.

Patrick van Aanholt has slotted straight into Leicester City’s back four in his preferred role at left-back and had a tidy debut in a 1-0 win away to Sheffield United.

Jacob Mellis, meanwhile, embarked upon a new experience at Barnsley and shone on his first display in a red shirt, proving dangerous and creative with the ball in a 2-0 win over Preston.

They then met at the Walkers’ Stadium, and whilst van Aanholt and company ran out 4-1 winners, Mellis stood out for the visitors by grabbing his first goal in professional football.

With his team two goals behind close to half time, a moment of class gave them a fighting chance. The Nottingham-born playmaker trapped a ball falling from a great height on the edge of the box before dropping a shoulder to get a yard of space and curling a smart effort beyond Chris Weale from the edge of the area.

Van Aanholt – who is expected to be joined by Jeffrey Bruma early next week – hit the crossbar midway through the first half with a sumptuous free kick which had left Luke Steele clutching at thin air, but both players impressed and have made good starts in England’s second tier.

Jack Cork, of course, is an old hand at this level, and completed two more full matches this week. The first came in a single-goal reverse at Doncaster, but Eddie Howe’s Burnley were able to bounce back with a creditable 2-1 win over Norwich at Turf Moor.

Ben Gordon is set to link up with his new Scunthorpe United team-mates on Monday after recovering from a hamstring injury which kept him sidelined throughout January.

Whilst the news has largely been positive higher up the English pyramid, it’s been a much harder week for Rhys Taylor at Crewe. The Railwaymen have seen their recent good form grind to a halt with back to back defeats, shipping nine goals in the process.

Losing 6-2 at Northampton before heading to Rotherham, where two late – and appalling – defensive errors led to a 3-1 beating resulted in Dario Gradi bemoaning his team’s performance at the back, but Welshman Taylor had little chance of preventing the catastrophes from occuring.

With five minutes remaining at Don Valley, Patrick Ada attempted to shepherd the ball back to the on-loan Chelsea stopper, but there was nowhere near enough pace for it to get there, and it allowed the predatory Adam Le Fondre to add another goal to his prolific haul for the season, summing up Alex’s woes in one moment.

In Holland, the Blues are down to two loanees, with Nemanja Matic now Benfica property as a part of the David Luiz transfer.

Slobodan Rajkovic – who had a poor showing in a 5-2 win last weekend – kept his place and the captain’s armband for Sunday’s home match against struggling Feyenoord, whilst Matej Delac continued on the bench.

The Serbian defender had one of his better games, bouncing back to form in a tough matchup against the lively attacking pair of Luc Castaignos and Ryo Miyaichi.

We’ll finish this week with a player we’ve not looked at before in the loan report. Jhon Pirez is a Uruguyan striker who signed a contract with Chelsea back in 2008, but due to FIFA regulations is unable to play competitively in England until the first transfer window after his eighteenth birthday.

He reaches that milestone later this month but got an early present on Saturday night as he marked his professional debut with a goal. Coming off the bench with thirteen minutes to go, Pirez headed Defensor Sporting’s fourth and final goal in a 4-1 win over River Plate in the first match of the Uruguayan Clausura season.

We’ll keep up with his progress, and with everyone’s, throughout the rest of the year.

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