The return of domestic action after an international fortnight was not a welcome one for many of Chelsea’s loanees, as frustrations mount on all fronts.
Concerns about playing time, poor results and injuries are beginning to mount up as the season approaches the midway point and the club have some key decisions to make going forward.
Needless to say, the Premier League pair of Gael Kakuta and Patrick van Aanholt came back from Under-21 duty with France and the Netherlands respectively only to find that they were surplus to requirements at their temporary north-west clubs.
Wigan Athletic continue to leave Van Aanholt out of their matchday squads, a decision which continues to baffle many onlookers. The Latics have hardly been in stellar form and they’re less than convincing at the back, but the young left-back is unable to make a breakthrough after a positive start at the DW Stadium.
Kakuta has at least been on Bolton’s bench but they too are struggling at the wrong end of the table and despite losing 2-1 away to West Brom on Saturday, the Frenchman was only used in stoppage time and had no chance to impact upon proceedings.
The longer both remain afterthoughts at their respective current homes, the less likely they are to have even the slightest chance of making progress at Stamford Bridge.
Down in League Two, Sam Walker has had a week to forget at Northampton Town. The Cobblers parted company with manager Gary Johnson – the man who brought Walker in on a season-long deal – and whilst the caretaker boss is former Chelsea defender David Lee, Sam now faces uncertainty with regards the next person for the job.
On the pitch, he conceded a career-high seven goals on Saturday as Shrewsbury Town ran riot late in the game at the Sixfields Stadium. With the hosts chasing an equaliser they fell behind 4-2 and having run out of steam, shipped three more goals in the closing moments.
Things were slighly more positive up in Laegue One as Conor Clifford made his second start for Yeovil Town in a 2-2 derby draw with Exeter City. The Irishman was withdrawn after an hour once again but did well on his home debut, with local media describing his performance as “industrious” and “impressive”.
Over in the Netherlands, Vitesse Arnhem suffered their heaviest defeat of the season at home to Feyenoord and to compound their misery, Tomas Kalas went off injured just before half time in the 0-4 defeat.
It remains to be seen how serious the problem is, but a long-term layoff would be a huge blow to a player who is undeniably the good news story of the season for Chelsea on the loan front.
Thibaut Courtois would also typically be a contender for that title, having been Atlético Madrid’s best player this season, but having become Belgium’s youngest ever international goalkeeper earlier in the week, he conceded two late goals to Levante in Sunday’s 3-2 home win.
Moving onto Germany, and Jeffrey Bruma was a strong contender for man of the match as Hamburg finally put a win on the board at home, beating Hoffenheim 2-0 at the Imtech Arena.
Bruma – who manager Thorsten Fink has earmarked as a first-choice starter alongside Heiko Westermann – had an outstanding game on his return from injury, winning all but one of his challenges and having an impact in the transition game with his passing.
Fink has started positively at the club and the hope is that the club can kick on before the winter break and begin to climb the table. With the help of performances like Bruma’s today, they can certainly do that.
We finish, as usual, by checking up on Matej Delac in the Czech Republic. The Croatian once again served as backup goalkeeper for Ceske Budejovice against Viktoria Zizkov, and appears to only be in contention to play in the Czech Cup.