With some of Chelsea’s many, many loanees still enjoying a winter break, this latest instalment is still a little shorter than most, but we’re able to lead off with another goalscorer in what has been a good season on that front.
Romelu Lukaku started 2013 with a bang and grabbed himself a New Year’s Day goal for West Brom at home to Fulham. It was his seventh goal for the Baggies and, as usual, he proved a monsterous threat for the visiting defence all afternoon.
It was a rare 90 minute outing for the big Belgian and he certainly tried his best to make it count in front of the live television cameras, scoring once, hitting the post, and generally causing havoc. His finishing let him down on occasion but he’s been doing more and more to force Steve Clarke’s hand into giving him more playing time.
To that end, he started back to back games for just the second time all season when he was included in the starting team to face QPR in the FA Cup this weekend, and got another decent 88 minutes in the 1-1 draw.
Down in the Championship, Nathaniel Chalobah continues to impress hugely and extended his stay at Watford until the end of the season. He had a strong New Year’s Day display in a seven goal thriller against Charlton before facing the biggest challenge of his career to date in the FA Cup away to Manchester City.
Starting in a midfield going up against Javi Garcia, Gareth Barry, James Milner and David Silva, he showed no sign of being overawed or overmatched, and played extremely well, leading to at least one prominent national journalist to suggest he is capable of playing for Chelsea right now. That might be a stretch, but the progress is clear for all to see.
You may recall he put in a Man of the Match display against Brighton last week. Here’s the best of his performance:
Josh McEachran remains sidelined through injury, as does Sam Hutchinson, whilst Ben Gordon has returned to Chelsea.
Milan Lalkovic, Conor Clifford and Sam Walker are also back at Chelsea after less than successful temporary departures, whilst Patrick Bamford will formally return this week as his deal with MK Dons will likely end due to injury. Todd Kane may yet stay at Preston after getting 90 minutes against Hartlepool and 45 in the Cup against Millwall, but that remains to be seen at this point.
The Spanish league returned from a brief winter exile this weekend and Thibaut Courtois was looking to begin 2013 as he ended 2012; with a clean sheet. He was on course to do so until three minutes from time away to Real Mallorca, when Kevin beat him to take a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
Ulises Dávila and Sabadell resumed their Segunda campaign against Elche but came out on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline. Now a firm regular in the team, the Mexican got another 90 minutes and threatened on occasion, but was unable to help his team take a point.
Jhon Pírez did not play.
Matej Delac remains in Portugal and doesn’t even have a familiar face in Lalkovic to console him any more. He was on backup goalkeeping duty as usual this week, and figured to remain there.