In a week where four more Chelsea youngsters headed out on loan, it was one of the new faces who impressed most. Patrick Bamford had a helpful debut for Milton Keynes Dons, racking up a couple of assists, whilst fellow left-footed forward Romelu Lukaku also made the headlines in grabbing his fourth goal of the season.
Lukaku had an eventful and exciting twenty-minute cameo performance in front of the Sky cameras as West Brom took on Sunderland away from home. In his short time on the pitch, the big Belgian thundered one effort off the post, scored a penalty and provided an assist for Marc-Antoine Fortune to finish the scoring at 4-2.
He proved an absolute handful throughout and his regular use as an impact substitute has been beneficial to Steve Clarke’s team.
Bamford, meanwhile, joined MK until early January and went straight into their starting eleven for the home game against Colchester United (for whom Archange Nkumu was not involved). He had quite the maiden performance, firstly laying on the opening goal for Luke Chadwick, before earning his second penalty of the week (following one for Chelsea’s Under-21s away to Liverpool) to help add to the scoreline.
He laid on another in the second half, although it was an underhit pass and it was very poorly defended, but he can be very pleased with his first start in professional football and can look forward to a fruitful spell at Stadium:MK.
You can see Sky Sports’ highlights of the game by clicking HERE.
Bamford was joined in moving to League One by Under-21 team-mates Todd Kane and Conor Clifford, and they too both went straight into the matchday squad for their new teams. Kane started on the right wing for Preston North End in a defeat at Leyton Orient, whilst Clifford was a late sub for Crawley Town in a loss away to Crewe Alexandra.
Kane had an eventful day, twice going close to scoring in the first half before moving back into defence later on in the game. Manager Graham Westley was impressed by his perfomance, and hinted that he’ll feature more regularly at right-back once he’s had a week to learn the club’s defensive structure and approach.
Clifford, meanwhile, is less certain of regular football but will have the opportunity to work his way into Richie Barker’s plans, especially with a busy December fixture list.
Elsewhere in England, Josh McEachran and Middlesbrough went down to a surprising 3-1 home defeat to lowly Bristol City in a game where nobody in home red did themselves justice. McEachran, who spent the morning watching Chelsea’s Under-16s and Under-18s playing their Middlesbrough counterparts, had one of his quieter outings and was substituted during the second half.
Nathaniel Chalobah played the full match for Watford as they dropped a two-goal lead away to Blackpool to only take a point back south with them. He’s doing just fine and remains a key part of Gianfranco Zola’s tactically versatile team.
Sam Hutchinson is still sidelined for Nottingham Forest and doesn’t appear to be on the mend in the short-term, with Forest bringing in Alan Hutton as cover for right-back until the new year, whilst Ben Gordon still didn’t feature for Birmingham City despite a season-ending injury to incumbent left-back David Murphy.
In League Two, Sam Walker has become Bristol Rovers’ starting goalkeeper again after Fulham recalled Filipino international Neil Etheridge earlier this week. He returned to a dramatic six-goal thriller with two red cards, and whilst he shipped three goals, none were his fault directly.
Overseas, it continues to be a very fine season for Vitesse Arnhem and their trip of Chelsea youngsters. Tomas Kalas, Patrick van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta all played 90 minutes in a highly impressive 2-1 win away to table-topping PSV Eindhoven, a result which moves Fred Rutten’s team into second place in the Eredivisie.
It was as tough as match as you might have expected, but Kalas in particular came through looking assured and capable at all times. Kakuta displayed an impressive defensive work ethic, and whilst Van Aanholt was asked more questions of than in most games this season, he generally did well and stuck to his task throughout.
Earlier the same afternoon, Amin Affane watched from the bench as his Roda team-mates threw away a lead to lose 2-1 to two late Ajax goals. Despite three assists in his previous two games, there was apparently no room for him in the side.
Kenneth Omeruo was back for ADO Den Haag on Friday night though, playing 90 minutes at right-back and being a part of a clean sheet in a solid 3-0 win away to NAC Breda.
In Spain, Thibaut Courtois kept a sixth club clean sheet of the season for Atlético Madrid in a resounding 4-0 win over a usually much more troublesome Sevilla side. The visitors mustered just two shots on target and the Belgian stopper didn’t have a great deal to do.
He was, as usual, rested for the club’s midweek Europa League fixture.
Ulises Dávila started for Sabadell, fresh off the back of a two-goal outing last weekend, and saw a rare 90 minutes this season to boot. He did well in the 1-1 draw against Mirandés, a result which keeps up Sabadell’s surprising ambitions of a top half finish, or perhaps even more ambitiously a playoff place for promotion to La Liga.
Jhon Pírez remains absent for Léganes, as we’re very familiar with.
In Belgium, Thorgan Hazard’s influence on Zulte-Waregem’s season has been clear for all to see as Esseevee are enjoying their best statistical campaign ever. A 1-0 win away to Gent keeps them second only to Anderlecht in the standings, but it was ironically one of Thorgan’s poorer outings of the season. He was subbed at half time, and was replaced by the man who scored the only goal, Ivan Lendric.
In Germany, Kevin De Bruyne was booked but played the duration of Werder Bremen’s 1-1 draw away to Wolfsburg. Bremen have quietly moved into the top six and are enjoying a solid season with the Belgian amongst their key players.
Jeffrey Bruma remained an unused substitute for Hamburg once again as they lost 2-0 away to Fortuna Dusseldorf.
In Portugal, both Milan Lalkovic and Matej Delac stayed on the bench throughout as Vitória drew 2-2 away to Beira-Mar.
Finally, Anjur Osmanovic has returned to Sweden for the rest of the season, on loan at former club Larje-Angereds. However, since the Swedish season has finished and doesn’t re-start until March, he’s unlikely to feature in this report very much at all.