A status quo has been reached on the loan front as we head into the fourth calendar month of the 2011-12 season.
Whilst a small few amongst the young Blue loanees have firmly entrenched themselves as weekly starters for their temporary clubs, others have become this year’s unfortunate examples of the exercise in futility the experience can often become.
At the very head of this is Patrick van Aanholt. The Dutch Under-21 international joined Wigan on transfer deadline day and immediately earned a starting berth at left-back for the Latics.
Whilst nobody would be so bold as to suggest he was exceptional in his early outings, he was at the very least no worse than any of his team-mates and generally looked the part as a Premier League footballer.
It is therefore rather surprising and most certainly disappointing that he has been unable to earn so much as a minute on the pitch since Roberto Martinez’ team lost away to Aston Villa on October 1st.
Patrick has not even been on the bench for the last three weekends and is understandably frustrated. Wigan’s form has hardly improved and they are rock bottom of the division and on the downside of a seven match losing streak.
Chelsea would be best served by cutting the loan short and having him return to Cobham until the new year, when they will hopefully be able to find a place for him to play regularly and develop as necessary.
Yet over the course of the previous few seasons, this has proved to be easier said than done. Each season brings about situations where certain players, for one reason or another, are simply unable to earn a weekly starting place for their sides.
Gael Kakuta and Matej Delac both have first hand experience of this. The pair struggled to make an impact at Fulham and Vitesse respectively in 2010-11 and are experiencing similar woes this time around.
Kakuta at least has been handed the occasional league cameo from the bench for Bolton in addition to Carling Cup starts, but he blew rather hot and cold away to Arsenal on Tuesday night before a similar brief showing at home to Sunderland on Saturday.
Bolton, like Wigan, are playing terribly but yet there appears to be no sign of change from Owen Coyle and the French Under-21 international is set to continue kicking his heels.
Delac, meanwhile, started only his second game for Ceske Budejovice last midweek, and helped his team to a 1-1 draw against Viktoria Zizkov which secured a place in the Czech Cup Semi Finals.
His previous appearance came in the first leg of the same tie but he was back on the bench on Sunday for the 4-1 home league win over Pribram.
On a more positive outlook, Thibault Courtois and Sam Walker have both been first choice for their clubs so far this season and have generally been more up than down.
The past seven days saw a couple of speed bumps for both but by and large they have been bedrocks of consistency and earned largely positive reviews.
Courtois’s clean sheet record for Atlético Madrid has been exceptional thus far but the team as a whole have played rather poorly and are bereft of attacking talent.
A 0-3 reverse away to Athletic Bilbao in midweek was the Belgian’s second heaviest defeat of the season but he played as well as could have been expected and bounced back on Sunday evening with a 3-1 win at home to Zaragoza, although he lost yet another shutout late in the day.
Walker meanwhile has been all too often exposed by a leaky Northampton Town back four and this was further evidenced on Tuesday night as Hereford took all three points with them from the Sixfields Stadium in a 3-1 victory.
The giant stopper was unable to do anything to prevent the loss but he did make a rare personal error in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Rotherham. With the game just two minutes old his attempt at quick distribution was inaccurate and in conceding possession, he sold his defenders short and was punished by Gareth Evans.
Nevertheless, he has been more good than bad in the final year of his Chelsea contract and whilst he admits that he is unsure as to what his immediate future holds, he has at the very least ensured a football league career for himself going forward.
In Germany, Jeffrey Bruma continued at the heart of Thorsten Fink’s Hamburg defence on Sunday and played well in a 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern.
HSV remain at the wrong end of the Bundesliga table but Fink has had a solid if unspectacular start at the Imtech Arena and a point will certainly have been well received given former Chelsea defender Slobodan Rajkovic was sent off after just 22 minutes for elbowing.
Bruma was partnered by substitute Dennis Diekmeier in Rajkovic’s absence and bar one moment of uncertainty when a poor headed clearance landed at the feet of a ‘Lautern striker, he played well and continues to grow as a player.
The Dutch international admitted this week that he expects to stay in Germany next season and suggested that there is a chance that the deal becomes permanent.
Finally, we’re off to the Netherlands where Tomas Kalas and Vitesse have racked up another pair of single goal victories in the last seven days to continue their fine form based on a defence which has been almost unbreachable so far in 11-12.
Wednesday night’s 2-1 KNVB Cup win over ADO Den Haag was followed by taking all three points on the road at De Graafschap with another clean sheet and the Czech teenager has been a shining light at right-back for John van den Brom’s side.
Mexican winger Ulises Dávila remained an unused substitute for both matches, and the Chelsea duo on loan at the Gelredome neatly sum up the overall loan campaign so far.