It was another week where not a great deal happened in the land of the Chelsea loanee, but let’s delve right in anyway.
Thibaut Courtois has thus far been the shining light amongst the young footballers currently plying their trade away from Stamford Bridge but even his last seven days failed to match the high points of his season so far as he conceded in back to back matches for the first time in his Atlético Madrid career.
In midweek Europa League action he kept Udinese at bay for almost the full duration of their match at the Friuli but Los Colchoneros succumbed to two late goals. On Sunday, the Belgian was beaten after just two minutes courtesy of a Tomer Hemed penalty but Colombian striker Falcao levelled with his own spot kick before half time to earn a share of the spoils.
Courtois has been in fantastic form all season but caught the headlines last week when he gave a surprisingly frank assessment of Petr Cech’s long-term future as the starting Chelsea goalkeeper. He ‘revealed’ that goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon is far from confident that the Czech custodian can play at a high level for more than three more seasons, and that this is the timeframe in he expects to be competing for his job by.
For their part, Chelsea responded with a statement claiming that Courtois was mistaken and should not have been so forthcoming with his words but on the face of it, the club appears to have put its long-term faith in the former Genk stopper ahead of Matej Delac, who has seen his progress flounder since leaving Inter Zapresic in 2010.
The Croatian Under-21 international was rated as one of his country’s finest talents when he signed for Chelsea but a desperately poor decision to send him to Vitesse Arnhem last season curtailed any serious development, and another season on the sidelines appears to be in order for 2011-12.
Delac was once again the backup goalkeeper for Czech basement-dwellers Ceske Budejovice over the weekend as they went down 2-0 away to Slavia Praha and despite their woeful form, playing time appears to be as far away as ever.
Unfortunately, this is a trend afflicting more than just Delac. Despite both Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers struggling, neither team are willing to make necessary changes and give chances to the likes of Patrick van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta, who both spent most of the weekend kicking their heels.
Van Aanholt was left out by choice for the second weekend in a row and the Latics were on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline away to Newcastle United. Kakuta, meanwhile, did get off the bench for his first league minutes as a Bolton player but their tenth defeat in twelve and fifth straight home reverse ensures more pressure being heaped upon manager Owen Coyle.
Coyle has revealed that Kakuta will feature away to Arsenal in tomorrow night’s Carling Cup clash, but despite scoring in the previous round, the Frenchman has been unable to earn further time on the pitch.
Sam Walker, on the other hand, has been an ever-present for Northampton Town so far, but was unable to do anything about either of Bradford City’s goals this weekend in their 2-1 away defeat.
Tomas Kalas has also been playing regularly for Vitesse and faced one of his toughest tests yet as the Arnhem club hosted PSV Eindhoven on Sunday evening and earned a credible 1-1 draw. The Czech defender passed his test with flying colours and has been one of the finest young players in the Eredivisie so far in 11-12.
Ulises Dávila, meanwhile, continues a slow acclimatisation to the Netherlands and watched on as an unused substitute. He is likely to feature in the upcoming midweek cup tie at home to ADO Den Haag.
Completing our round-up in Germany, Jeffrey Bruma started at the heart of HSV’s defence in their first match under new boss Thorsten Fink and played well enough in a 1-1 draw with Wolfsburg. Fink appears to rate the Dutch defender but with a number of defensive options returning to fitness, the true test of his ability will now come to the fore as he fights for playing time once again.