It’s the turn of the goalkeepers to take centre stage in the latest edition of the Loan Report after an interesting week for Chelsea’s quartet of stoppers.
Giving credit where it’s due, it’s also appropriate to begin with Yeovil Town’s Sam Walker, who had one of his finest days as a professional on Saturday with an inspired, man of the match performance away to Bournemouth.
Earlier in the week, Glovers boss Gary Johnson urged for patience amongst supporters who had become disgruntled with Walker’s inconsistent performances, noting that whilst Sam had not been in great form he was still young and that there would be bumps in the road.
Fresh off the back of those comments, Walker was exceptional in earning a point in a goalless draw and made a string of sensational saves, the best of which can be seen by UK viewers on the BBC Sport website from Monday morning.
The next step for Sam is to take this confidence boost through to the end of the season and secure Yeovil’s place in League One for next season, when he might very well return to the club for another loan spell.
Rhys Taylor also had a clean sheet and a victory as Rotherham beat lowly Hereford United in League Two, but unlike Walker, the Welshman had very little to do in a routine victory for the Millers.
In Spain, Thibaut Courtois picked up a pair of victories and one more clean sheet, taking him to nineteen for the season as Atlético Madrid’s starter. Los Colchoneros put one foot in the Europa League Semi Finals on Thursday with a 2-1 victory over Hannover and the big Belgian was an important reason behind securing that result, making a fine save in the closing moments to ensure a lead will be taken to the AWD-Arena.
He had considerably less to do against Getafe in league action on Sunday and it increasingly looks like Diego Simeone’s men will put all of their eggs into the Europa basket to determine their fate for next season.
Completing the set is Croatian Matej Delac, who played a league match for the first time since May 2010, when he was still with Inter Zapresic. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly go to plan as lowly Ceske Budejovice were hammered 5-0 by Champions League outfit Viktoria Plzen.
You can see considerable highlights from the game HERE. Whilst Delac will feel he could have done better for one or two goals, he is undoubtedly very rusty from such a long time on the bench both technically and mentally.
He was back on the bench for Sunday’s home win over FC Hradec Krelové as Michal Danek returned to the starting line-up.
There were few positives elsewhere though, as Chelsea’s outfield loanees either struggled to make an impact or simply didn’t play at all. Josh McEachran was an unused sub as per usual for Swansea, Milan Lalkovic didn’t make ADO Den Haag’s matchday squad, and nor did Jeffrey Bruma for Hamburg.
Word from HSV is that the senior players believe that the best chance they have of avoiding relegation is to rely on the older, more experienced players who have been there and done it before, rather than someone more ‘raw’ like Bruma.
To that end, they have preferred the older Michael Mancienne at centre-back in recent weeks and looked slightly more secure at the back, and picked up a big victory on Saturday away to bottom-placed Kaiserslautern.
Whether it affects Bruma’s chances of remaining at the Imtech-Arena next season remains to be seen, as the Dutchman has regularly stated that he simply wants to play, but he may not get a look for the rest of this season.
Whilst Lalkovic missed out for Den Haag, Kenneth Omeruo continued at right-back, but the yellow and green side lost 1-0 to RKC Waalwijk. The Nigerian appears set to be a regular for the foreseeable future, whilst the Slovakian Lalkovic would be best served by returning to England at the earliest possible convenience.
Over at Vitesse Arnhem, Patrick van Aanholt was relegated to the bench after some shaky performances in recent weeks and remained there as his teammates drew 2-2 with title challengers AZ Alkmaar.
Tomas Kalas, of course, played the duration at the heart of the defence and held his own against Jozy Altidore and Brett Holman. Whether Kalas wants to stay at the club next season or not, there is a very high chance that bigger and better clubs will be clamouring for his services.
Ulises Dávila played for Jong Vitesse in a midweek win over Jong Feyenoord and this week watched his Mexican compatriots seal a place at the London 2012 Olympics, which he’ll have a chance of playing in.
Gael Kakuta and Dijon moved a step closer to safety on Saturday with a last-gasp draw away to Bordeaux. The French playmaker was quiet once again as his side were under the cosh for the majority of the game but he was as influential as he could be on the break and from set pieces, and did his fair share of defensive dirty work.
Genk began their Playoff 1 campaign bidding for a place in next season’s UEFA competition but were defeated 2-0 away to Club Brugge in a game Kevin de Bruyne struggled to get into.
A week after his most influential outing of 2011-12, he was much quieter, and was booked in the second half. It still stands to reason, however, that he will be key to any hopes Mario Been and his team have of finishing the season well.
Ben Gordon and Kilmarnock will finish their campaign on the wrong side of a league split though after losing 4-2 at St Mirren on Saturday. Gordon played his regular ninety minutes.
Finally, some loan news in brief. Second-year scholar Reece Loudon has struggled for playing time under Adi Viveash in the Under-18s this season and in early March joined Potters Bar Town of the Isthmian League First Division North on a work experience loan.
The full-back-cum-winger has done well at club relatively local to him, scoring a goal against Needham Market and getting some badly-needed minutes under his belt. Good luck to him there.