It’s been a rather action-packed seven days on the loan front with a number of teams and players in action twice. For the first time as a Chelsea player, Kevin de Bruyne is this week’s headline act.
The Belgian international turned in a performance of the highest order when his team needed it most, scoring one and creating the other two goals as Genk beat Gent 3-1 in midweek to secure themselves a top six berth and a place in the Belgian league playoffs.
Playing in a central midfield position as opposed to his usual wide role, De Bruyne pulled all the strings and revelled in being Genk’s talisman. His free kick found Chistian Benteke for a vital equaliser on the hour mark and less than sixty seconds later he deftly flicked a ball over the top of the Gent defence to spring Thomas Buffel free for a second.
A sensational eight-minute spell was capped when he burst through from deep to collect Benteke’s pass and finish comprehensively past goalkeeper Frank Boeckx. You can see all of the action HERE.
De Bruyne revealed afterwards that he spent considerable time as a youngster playing in a more central role and generally likes to do so, something which offers much food for thought for Chelsea going forward.
Elsewhere on the loan front, it was a bit of a mixed bag, summed up by Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian was on the winning team on Wednesday night as Atlético Madrid defeated everybody’s current ‘second team’ Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon, but suffered a surprising defeat on Sunday away to bottom-placed Zaragoza.
He had little to do on either occasion and simply exhibited his customary excellence in terms of focus, preparation and confidence to control his surroundings, but still came off on the losing side in the second of his outings due to a stoppage time penalty which he had no chance of stopping.
Staying with the goalkeepers, there was a surprise this week as Matej Delac saw some very rare playing time for Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Post Cup. The Croatian stopper kept a clean sheet (thanks to a goal disallowed for offside) in a goalless draw with FK Jablonec and played well but is expected to return to the bench for tomorrow night’s trip to Viktoria Plzen.
Sam Walker and Yeovil saw their good run of form ended this week with a 3-0 defeat away to title certs Charlton Athletic and a 0-1 home reverse against Hartlepool United.
Walker was at fault for Charlton’s opener on Wednesday as he completely mis-judged Dany N’Guessan’s fierce cross and watched it fly into the top corner. UK viewers can see it HERE.
The big goalkeeper was hardly responsible for any of the other goals the Glovers conceded over the course of the two matches but the incident did go some way to encapsulating what Yeovil fans think of their temporary number one; that he’s a generally capable player who makes some good saves but has some work to do on crosses and commanding his area.
It was also an up and down few days for Rhys Taylor and Rotherham, who beat Macclesfield and lost to Crawley but in between parted company with manager Andy Scott.
Taylor, who was excellent in the 3-0 defeat at Crawley, told local media of his disappointment upon hearing the news of Scott’s departure, remained first choice in the immediate short-term under caretaker manager Darren Patterson but faces an uncertain future on multiple fronts.
The club may choose to dispense with the services of some or all of their loanees as they see the season out under transitional management, whilst any thoughts the Welshman may have had regarding a permanent future at the club may now be under review with Scott no longer in charge.
Up in the Premier League there was only one match for Swansea this week and just twenty minutes of playing time for Josh McEachran, although it was his first of any sort in a full month.
It was also largely pointless and came in a losing cause as Brendan Rodgers’ team were already 2-0 down to Everton and looking to preserve the fitness of key starters such as Scott Sinclair, who made way for the midfielder.
The move has not gone as well as Chelsea would have hoped but they took their time in finalising the deal and in delaying affairs forced Swansea’s hand into moving for Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has been integral in recent weeks and is a definite first choice ahead of McEachran.
Hopefully, with safety pretty much secured and Sigurdsson attracting attention from other clubs, Josh will see more action in the final weeks of the campaign.
Jeffrey Bruma has also seen his playing time dwindle of late and he spent the duration of Friday night on the substiutes bench as Hamburg lost 2-1 away to Wolfsburg to leave them firmly embroiled in a relegation battle they had at one point escaped from.
Bruma was not the only player to be dropped after a woeful performance last weekend at home to Freiburg as Gokhan Töre, Slobodan Rajovic, Tolgay Arslan and Gojko Kacar were all relegated by Thorsten Fink as he sought an about-turn in form.
In France, Gael Kakuta has been in fine form of late as Dijon attempt to climb their way to Ligue Une safety and they went a long way to achieving just that with a 2-0 win over SM Caen on Sunday.
It was one of Kakuta’s quieter outings in recent weeks, thanks largely to playing wider to the right than he usually does, but he was determined and hard-working in a team effort which secured the three points. He had his moments late in the game and tried a few tricks and flicks which didn’t come off but he continues to look the part.
In the Netherlands, ADO Den Haag earned a very credible 1-1 draw with Steve McClaren’s FC Twente and Kenneth Omeruo played a full 90 minutes at right-back once again.
The Nigerian, who picked up a booking, has earned positive reviews thus far and has attracted the attention of his national team’s staff, who are considering him for full selection. He has indicated that he prefers to play at centre-back or in defensive midfield but is doing well in a new role and is set to continue there.
Milan Lalkovic returned to the matchday squad but was an unused sub and has played just fifteen minutes in six weeks at the club, confirming that the move was a last-minute deal and one which was poorly thought out.
Reports at the time suggested that the Den Haag club had seen a move for Fulham’s Danny Hoesen scuppered late on deadline day and they needed an alternative, and sourced Lalkovic from Chelsea as a result of their new working relationship.
Whilst ADO picked up a point, Vitesse surrendered all three and lost 3-1 away to Roda JC. Patrick van Aanholt and Tomas Kalas played the full match, with the Dutchman deflecting the second goal past his own goalkeeper and doing little to placate the boo-boys who appear to be targetting him on a regular basis.
Ulises Dávila and Jong Vitesse/AGOVV lost 5-0 to Jong Heerenveen/Emmen.
Finally, Ben Gordon returned to league action after a victorious Scottish League Cup Final last weekend and the good times continued as Kilmarnock beat Motherwell 2-0 to keep alive faint hopes of leapfrogging Hearts into the top half of the table before the SPL splits in two weeks’ time.