Chelsea’s trio of loanees at Vitesse Arnhem headline this week’s Loan Report as they helped their temporary club to a dramatic 3-2 victory over Ajax on Sunday afternoon.
Tomas Kalas, Patrick van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta all started in the top-of-the-table clash and played the full duration of a match which was essentially a must-win fixture for Fred Rutten’s men if they were to maintain chances of a title chase this season.
Things didn’t start particularly well for the Gelderlanders though, as Ajax went out to a 2-0 lead, and Kalas in particular was having a tough time dealing with Danish sensational Christian Eriksen, but the game was suddenly turned on its head in the final quarter of play, with Blues youngsters front and centre.
Theo Janssen took advantage of some lax defending to pull one back against his former club, before Van Aanholt opened his account for the club with a coolly taken equaliser after galloping into an advanced position on the left flank. Renato Ibarra then completed the comeback with a late winner to bump them up to fourth place in the league and within five points of the top of the table.
The previous night in the Eredivisie, ADO Den Haag hosted Roda JC in a match which would ordinarily have seen Kenneth Omeruo face Amin Affane, but Omeruo is away playing for Nigeria at the African Cup of Nations (and doing very well indeed), whilst Affane missed his second consecutive outing for reasons not given by manager Ruud Brood.
On English shores, it was an FA Cup weekend and with West Bromwich Albion already eliminated, there was no action for regular Loan Report headliner Romelu Lukaku, nor was there any time for Josh McEachran, who appears to have been denied permission to play for Middlesbrough having not appeared in any cup matches this season. Todd Kane was cup-tied for Blackburn Rovers’ trip to Derby County, having already played in the competition for Preston North End.
There was some lower league action, however, which allowed Nathaniel Chalobah to once again showcase his excellent potential. He created a bit of a buzz with a smart, intelligent display for Watford away to a Nottingham Forest side still without the injured Sam Hutchinson. The Hornets cruised to a 3-0 win which moves them up to fourth in the table; Chalobah was withdrawn minutes from time and picked up a customary yellow card.
In League One, Sam Walker made his debut in goal for Colchester United and lined up alongside Chelsea colleague Billy Clifford as the Us ended their nine-match losing skid with a 2-0 win over Walsall.
The result was Colchester’s first clean sheet since mid-November and Walker impressed with a confident, composed performance, whilst Clifford had another good outing in an attacking midfield role, picking up a soft yellow card for encroachment at a set piece.
In Spain, Lucas Piazon made his Málaga debut in midweek as an 80th minute substitute in a Copa Del Rey fixture against Barcelona. The tie was well out of reach by the time the Brazilian arrived on the scene and he barely touched the ball in his brief cameo, but at least made the matchday squad. He was then an unused substitute away to Mallorca in the weekend fixture.
Thibaut Courtois had a better week though, as he usually does, starting with a solid display away to Betis in the Cup on Thursday before Atlético lost 3-0 at Bilbao on Sunday. He only conceded from a last-minute penalty in the Copa fixture, then put in a fantastic virtuoso display to aid an out-of-sorts Los Colchoneros and keep their loss to just a three-goal margin. This…unusual save was one of many brilliant stops on the night:
Ulises Dávila played as a lone striker for Sabadell as they took on relegated Villarreal, but they succumbed to a 3-0 defeat against a team who have struggled upon their return to La Segunda. Meanwhile, Leganés beat Atlético Madrid B 2-1 in Segunda B action and although Jhon Pírez was not involved, he was finally fit enough to return to their squad and will be in contention to play going forward.
In Germany, Jeffrey Bruma started at centre-back for Hamburg with Michael Mancienne out for six weeks with an ankle injury and did so against Kevin De Bruyne and Werder Bremen. Bruma came out on top in the form of a 3-2 scoreline and figures to be a regular part of the defence for the next few weeks at least.
Sporting Director Frank Arnesen has confirmed that they will be looking to sign him permanently before the month is out, and Bruma has indicated that he is open to the idea so long as he has a chance of playing regular football.
De Bruyne played the full 90 minutes but aside from one or two decent touches, had another quiet game and hasn’t really found his groove since returning from the winter break.
In Belgium, Thorgan Hazard and Zulte Waregem returned to league action after a title clash against relentless Anderlecht was snowed off last weekend and they did so in victorious fashion with a 2-0 win against Lierse. Hazard played well, winning a penalty which was put away at the second time of asking, and kept Essevee in second place in the Jupiler League.
Finally, Matej Delac and Inter Zapresic remain on their winter break in the Croatian league.