It’s a Vitesse Arnhem kind of week. Chelsea’s Dutch affiliate club made quite the statement this past Saturday evening when they took on PSV Eindhoven in the marquee fixture of the weekend in the Eredivisie, coming away from the Philips Stadion with an emphatic 6-2 victory. With Blues loanees contributing to every one of the goals, it makes sense to begin with them.
Lucas Piazon, Patrick van Aanholt and Christian Atsu all took their regular places in the starting line-up; Atsu in the ten role behind forward Mike Havenaar, with the other two lining up alongside each other on the left side, and between them they were integral in destroying a young PSV side which was missing regular centre-back and former Chelsea player Jeffrey Bruma through suspension.
Piazon opened the scoring with a clinical finish after the ball broke loose in the box from a long throw, and whilst the hosts levelled just before half time, it was Vitesse who ran riot in the second half. Atsu laid on the second for Havenaar with a fierce cross from the left before Piazon produced a magical through ball for Kelvin Leerdam to add a third.
Karim Rekik reduced arrears late on but then Van Aanholt took over to secure the points. His quick free kick released Davy Propper for 4-2, and he then got in on the goalscoring act himself after playing a series of passes back and forth with Piazon before nutmegging Jeroen Zoet from a tight angle. He capped things off with another sharp and incisive ball in for Propper to round out a statement victory and keep Peter Bosz’s side atop the Eredivisie.
Gael Kakuta came off the bench for a ten minute cameo whilst Sam Hutchinson remained there unused. Cristian Cuevas, as per usual, was not involved, and his spell at the club is mainly about adapting to Europe.
They weren’t the only Chelsea loanees to score and deserve a share of the headlines. Nathaniel Chalobah took advantage of a rare start for Nottingham Forest to claim his second goal of the season, heading home against Millwall. It later emerged that he was the victim of alleged racial abuse, and an official investigation is ongoing.
The England Under-21 international had come in for some criticism from Forest supporters before scoring, and he has really yet to convince them of his quality so far. On Saturday, he was back on the bench for the trip to Sheffield Wednesday and only played ten minutes, suggesting that when his spell at the City Ground ends in just over a month, he’ll likely move onto a new temporary home.
Ulises Dávila, the Mexican forward on loan at Spanish Second Division side Córdoba, scored his fourth goal of the season away to Real Zaragoza, but ended up on the wrong side of a 2-1 defeat.
A double header of Premier League action gave Romelu Lukaku ample opportunity to add to his growing reputation at Everton, and whilst he didn’t score at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, his rampaging performance against Nemanja Vidic earned a number of plaudits as Everton beat Manchester United 1-0 to heap further misery on former manager David Moyes.
The Toffees had another tough task on Sunday with a trip to league leaders Arsenal but finished a good week with a 1-1 draw. Lukaku played the full match but was often isolated and really didn’t affect the game as much as he can.
Victor Moses was an unused substitute for Liverpool in midweek as they hammered Norwich 5-1 at Anfield, and only got ten minutes or so on Saturday when the Reds comfortably sent West Ham packing 4-1.
In The Championship, Josh McEachran missed Watford’s draws at Burnley and Leeds through illness, whilst Todd Kane played 90 minutes at Ipswich for Blackburn, picking up a booking which meant he was suspended for the weekend draw at Queens Park Rangers.
Further down the English ladder, it was FA Cup weekend, and whilst there were starts for Milan Lalkovic of Walsall (71 minutes) and George Saville of Brentford (84 minutes), both finished on the losing side and fell at the second round stage. Patrick Bamford – who got a full game – and MK Dons, though, beat Dover 1-0 to take their place in Round Three.
Sam Walker and Colchester were eliminated in Round One, and therefore had no fixture.
It was also domestic cup weekend in Spain, which was a change from the traditional norm as these fixtures have been confined to midweek dates in recent years. Atlético Madrid beat Sant Andreu 4-0 whilst resting Thibaut Courtois, whilst Marko Marin still wasn’t fit enough to return for a Sevilla team that beat Racing Santander 1-0 on Friday.
Oriol Romeu did get a third straight start for Valencia, lining up against Gimnastic and getting 90 minutes in a goalless draw.
Jhon Pírez was absent from the Leganés team which faced Salto del Caballo.
Wallace received his first start for Inter this week as the Nerazzuri took on lower leaguers Trapani in the Coppa Italia. He got 90 minutes but was back on the bench without being used on Sunday at home to Parma in Serie A action.
Thorgan Hazard was rested for Zulte Waregem’s midweek cup detail but the strain of competing on multiple fronts is beginning to show for a thin Essevee squad as they dropped Jupiler League points again on Saturday, drawing 1-1 away to Mons. Thorgan remains their most viable goal threat but when he has a quiet game, they tend to suffer, and they did so here.
Having scored four times as an impact substitute, Stipe Perica was rewarded with a start for NAC Breda’s trip to Ajax. They were duly humbled 4-0 but the Croatian played the full match and will benefit from the experience of doing so.
Vojvodina drew the unfortunate straw of having to face Crvena Zvezda – perhaps best known as Red Star Belgrade – twice in five days across cup and league competition. They won the cup outing and lost the league clash, but Matej Delac played no part in either of them after recent injury. He was on the bench though, and the Serbian league is now in a winter break until February.