Despite a healthy chunk of Chelsea’s loanees now being on their winter break, the streak of at least one goal being scored in every week of the season to date continued in the post-Christmas period courtesy of a familiar pair of left-footed forwards.
Romelu Lukaku and Patrick Bamford have found the net more than twenty times combined this season and each of them added to their tallies this week with important goals for their teams.
Bamford was the first to strike, netting his sixteenth goal of the campaign in MK Dons’ 2-0 win away to Crawley. It marked a fourth straight victory for the Dons, but they were then unable to extend that run on Sunday when they lost 3-1 at George Saville’s Brentford. Bamford hit the crossbar as Karl Robinson’s team went down to the better team on the day.
Lukaku then made up for a quiet Boxing Day when Everton were upset at home to Sunderland by scoring the decisive goal in a 2-1 win over Southampton to put the Toffees back in the top four.
It was as impressive a strike as he’s produced all season and was a timely return to form after his longest spell without a goal all season.
The Netherlands, Spain and Italy have all broken up for the winter, meaning Lucas Piazon, Patrick van Aanholt, Christian Atsu, Gael Kakuta, Sam Hutchinson, Cristian Cuevas, Stipe Perica, Thibaut Courtois, Marko Marin, Oriol Romeu, Ulises Dávila, Jhon Pírez and Wallace have been enjoying the festive season with their families and/or on holiday in considerably warmer environs.
There are no such stoppages at this time of year in England though, and the action came thick and fast around the country during the past five days.
Victor Moses was ineffective as a substitute for Liverpool in their defeat at Manchester City before being precluded from featuring in the Reds’ 2-1 battering against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday due to Premier League loan rules.
Josh McEachran played no part in Watford’s games against Millwall and QPR – even being left out of the 18 in the first of the two matches – and with his deal at Vicarage Road ending on Thursday, isn’t likely to feature at Yeovil in midweek either.
Nathaniel Chalobah fared little better, coming on as a mid-second half substitute in a pair of Nottingham Forest wins over QPR and Leeds. He claimed something of an assist in the latter of the fixtures, laying the ball off for an excellent Matt Derbyshire finish, but he too may be moving on when his loan is up in a fortnight or so.
Todd Kane missed both of Blackburn’s games this week through a thigh injury.
In League One, George Saville missed Brentford’s Boxing Day action through illness but was back to best Bamford and the MK Dons with a good display on Sunday.
Milan Lalkovic had a solid 75 minutes for Walsall in a narrow defeat to Bristol City but was sidelined for Sunday’s match against Gillingham with a foot injury.
Sam Walker made his 100th league career appearance against Stevenage on Thursday and marked it with a clean sheet in a 4-0 thumping of Stevenage, but the Us couldn’t make it six points from six as they lost 2-1 to Crewe in the second of their winter double-header.
The Jupiler League will also have a winter break but they went into hibernation late, completing the first half of the schedule with a Boxing Day arrangement. For Thorgan Hazard and Zulte Waregem, it meant a tough away game at Anderlecht, where they lost by a solitary goal. Thorgan struck a threatening free kick midway through the first half but was otherwise quiet and was marginalised on the right flank for most of the game.