Pride of place atop the Loan Report here on TheChels typically goes to those who make a notable impact in their performances. If someone scores a goal, they’re typically guaranteed to feature prominently, no matter their reputation or level of ability.
So, for the second time this season our first focus is squarely on Ulises Dávila. The Mexican netted for Spanish Second Division outfit Sabadell on Saturday night to help his team earn a 1-1 draw against Córdoba.
Dávila has seen his playing time dwindle in recent weeks, starting most games on the bench and not always coming on for a notable period of time. This weekend though, he came on just after the hour and was decisive within five minutes of his arrival.
He collected the ball on the edge of the box, created some space for himself and scored with a fierce low drive to grab a deserved equaliser and a point which keeps Sabadell in a strong league position.
Elsewhere in Spain, Thibaut Courtois was rested for midweek Europa League action as usual, but returned to the starting line-up on Sunday as Atlético Madrid hosted Osasuna. Atléti ran out comfortable victors to keep pace with Barcelona atop La Liga, with Courtois conceding just the one goal to Roland Lamah.
It was a smart finish from the edge of the box which left the giant goalkeeper with little chance of saving it.
It almost goes without saying that Uruguayan forward Jhon Pírez failed to feature for Leganés.
On English shores, there was another goalscorer in Romelu Lukaku, who responded to only his second league start of the season with his third goal in West Bromwich Albion colours.
Roberto Di Matteo casually dropped into his Friday press conference the idea that if Lukaku wasn’t to receive an extended run of time in the team, then he might be recalled in the January transfer window. By a matter of remarkable coincidence, Steve Clarke started him against Newcastle and was duly rewarded.
Lukaku popped up unmarked at the far post to nod home a cross from Zoltan Gera to tie the score at 1-1, but unfortunately for the Baggies, a late Papiss Cisse goal denied them a share of the spoils.
There was a double helping of action for football league clubs, and in particular Championship midfielders Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah. At least, that was the plan, but an unfortunate red card for Chalobah cut his week short.
The England Under-19 international has been in excellent recent form and retained his place in Gianfranco Zola’s starting eleven as usual for the trip to Watford. He was enjoying a strong performance but when he kicked the ball away after a foul in the second half, he received his marching orders for the first time in his career.
Watford, who would finish with nine men, went on to lose that game and suffered defeat again on Saturday away to Blackburn, with Chalobah absent through suspension.
McEachran had a better time of it though, being a part of two home wins for Middlesbrough over Hull and Bolton respectively. Manager Tony Mowbray has started withdrawing him ten or so minutes short of full time due to Boro’s congested fixture list, but he’s been playing just fine, and this compilation video of a recent match away to Blackburn encapsulates much of what he’s been doing at the Riverside Stadium.
Sam Hutchinson remains sidelined through injury, but Nottingham Forest manager Sean O’Driscoll did offer an insight into the young defender’s problems earlier this week:
“We’ve had a chat with Chelsea to see where we are and how long both parties think this is going to last.
“It’s a strange one because it’s not the knee that was causing us concern when we first signed him.
“That has been fine, well managed and we’ve had no problems with it.
“They have injected his other knee and it has reacted really badly and what Chelsea thought would be two days has ended up being two or three weeks and not really looking like it’s going to resolve itself any time in the future.
“That’s why the conversation between the two clubs and the player, because he’s the most important part in all of this, have been taking place.
“He’s desperate to stay; we’d like to keep him but we need bodies on the pitch.”
Ben Gordon continues to join Sam on the sidelines with a knee injury of his own, suffered in a recent Birmingham City Under-21 game.
Sam Walker remains at Bristol Rovers backing up Neil Etheridge, but with the Fulham loanee due to head off on international duty for the Philippines in the next couple of weeks, Sam may see some rare playing time for the struggling Pirates.
Archange Nkumu hit the loan trail for the second time this season earlier in the week, heading East towards Colchester United until mid-January. He was on the bench the same day as signing away to Leyton Orient (where he made his sole Yeovil Town appearance) but not involved at Shrewsbury on Saturday.
In Germany, Kevin De Bruyne completed another full match for Werder Bremen, who were held to a 1-1 draw away to Greuther Furth. It was one of the Belgian’s quieter games of the season, with Furth proving a hard nut to crack in increasingly wintery conditions.
Jeffrey Bruma, meanwhile, continues to be a victim of Hamburg’s strong recent form by remaining as an unused substitute in their 2-0 win away to Augsburg on Friday night. HSV are now up to sixth in the Bundesliga standings.
Indeed, many clubs accommodating a Chelsea youngster have been experiencing strong campaigns, not least Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie. The Gelderlanders went into Sunday’s clash against AZ Alkmaar unbeaten and with a chance to go second in the table, but they fell to their first loss of the season with a goal two minutes from time.
Tomas Kalas and Patrick van Aanholt started at full-back as usual, whilst Gael Kakuta got a first appearance of the season midway through the second half as a substitute. The Frenchman took just four minutes to make an impact, providing the cross from which Marco van Ginkel converted the equaliser, a fine way to make up for a recent (but minor) disciplinary issue.
Van Aanholt was slightly out of position for Roy Beerens’ opener as a deep cross found him lagging behind at the far post, but by the same token, goalkeeper Piet Velthuizen will be disappointed with the manner in which he was beaten.
Amin Affane was rewarded with 90 minutes for Roda JC (the first time in over month he’s done that) after an assist last week but their game away to NEC Nijmegen was a drab goalless draw.
Kenneth Omeruo and ADO Den Haag ran out 2-0 winners over Willem II, with the Nigerian playing 69 minutes in his typical buccaneering fashion before being substituted.
Across the border in Belgium, Thorgan Hazard and Zulte Waregem are also enjoying a stellar season, and a 2-0 win over Waasland-Beveren this weekend had them temporarily atop the Juplier League standings.
The younger Hazard has settled extremely well in the developmental league, adopting a playmaking position just behind the strikers, and laid on a fair few chances for more goals against Beveren which weren’t taken.
Finishing off in Portugal, Matej Delac was back to backup duty for Vitória again this week after a rare cup sighting last weekend, whilst Milan Lalkovic, who has been selected on the European Golden Boy Award shortlist, was given the weekend off from action.