It was a case of the usual suspects coming to the fore again this week on the loan front as Patrick Bamford, Thorgan Hazard and Lucas Piazon all found the back of the net again in what has been a very, very good season so far for young Blues plying their trade elsewhere.
Bamford got things rolling this weekend with a quick-fire double for Milton Keynes Dons in their comfortable home win over Stevenage. His seventh and eighth goals of the campaign to date came inside the opening twenty minutes, first heading home from a free kick (to his obvious delight as a rare scorer of headers) before showing his instinctive movement and finishing ability to sweep home from a close-range cutback.
He turned provider for the third in sliding a ball through for young Dele Alli to score, and was involved in the move which led to the penalty for the game’s final goal. Curiously, he didn’t take the spot kick which might have afforded him a first professional hat-trick, but nonetheless he extends his run of scoring in every home match this season.
Hazard, meanwhile, continues to assert himself as possibly the best player in Belgian domestic football by toying with Lokeren in a 4-2 win which puts Zulte Waregem up to third in the Jupiler League standings. His first owed much to poor goalkeeping, but his second was a smart finish from close range in following up a loose ball.
With eight goals and eight assists in fifteen games this season, Thorgan is proving himself to be as productive a midfielder as there is across Europe, and whilst questions may be raised as to how much he’s being tested in spending another season in Belgium, he is at least distancing himself from the pack, which is as much as can be asked of him.
There were suggestions during the summer that he should have headed across the border into the Netherlands to join the swelling ranks of Chelsea players at Vitesse Arnhem. He didn’t, of course, but Lucas Piazon was amongst those who did and Vitesse fans could hardly be happier with the Brazilian after his third goal in two outings secured a dramatic last-minute win over NEC Nijmegen in a big local derby.
He had previously claimed an assist in delivering the corner from which Kelvin Leerdam headed home but the true drama arrived late in the day as he collected the ball on the edge of the box, shifted it to find some space and lashed home into the bottom corner to clinch the match 3-2.
It came seconds after both Gael Kakuta and Davy Propper had hit the woodwork, with Kakuta again a late substitute in returning from a recent injury. Patrick van Aanholt played ninety minutes at left-back as usual and might have scored himself but for a poor touch, whilst Cristian Atsu was an unused substitute having secured his Dutch work permit this week.
Romelu Lukaku is set to make his Everton home debut on Monday night against Newcastle United. News of his involvement will be in a later, updated revision of this report.
Victor Moses played well as he got 75 minutes of Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Sunderland.
In The Championship, Todd Kane and Blackburn put in a fine away display in winning 3-1 at Bournemouth on Saturday. The 20 year-old full-back didn’t influence the attacking play as much as he has in recent weeks, with the damage this time being done on the left, but he’s very much a trusted part of manager Gary Bowyer’s plans.
Nathaniel Chalobah missed both of Nottingham Forest’s matches this week through a minor injury, whilst Josh McEachran lasted just 38 minutes of his Watford debut on Tuesday against Norwich City before suffering a re-occurrence of a recent back problem and was withdrawn and then held out of their weekend league clash with Wigan. Neither player is expected to be sidelined for long and indeed, McEachran was on the bench against the Latics.
George Saville is also on the injury table for League One’s Brentford after complaining of a hip flexor issue but is expected to return to action next weekend.
Milan Lalkovic returned to the Walsall starting team for the first time in a month and was given a fairly tough assignment as the Saddlers headed south to take on Leyton Orient, winners of all of their first eight matches. He played 68 minutes and impressed as Dean Smith’s men became the first team to take a point from the O’s, the match finishing 1-1.
Sam Walker and Colchester United drew 1-1 at Bristol City with the big goalkeeper his usual self; a string of decent saves and little he could do about the one he conceded. Daniel Pappoe was absent serving the second of his three-match ban.
In a less goal-laden week, Thibaut Courtois might have stolen all of the headlines for himself. Alas, he must make do with taking the plaudits in Spain as Atlético Madrid maintained their perfect start to the La Liga season and kept pace with Barcelona at the top of the standings in beating Real Madrid 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Having gone the best part of two decades without a win away to their cross-town rivals, Atlético have now won twice there in the space of five months, and Courtois has been central to both successes.
He made a handful of big saves to preserve a clean sheet which means he has now shut out both Barcelona and Real Madrid in their own back yards so far in 2013-14 and whilst he had a hiccup or two in stoppage time (resulting in a minor hand injury), he was as big a part of the result as anyone in red and white.
Oriol Romeu was an unused substitute for Valencia again after manager Miroslav Djukic included him in saying that those not playing right now had to prove themselves worthy, whilst Marko Marin was used as a late change for Sevilla in their draw at Real Sociedad.
Uli Dávila got ten minutes as a substitute for Córdoba in their 2-0 win over Girona. Jhon Pírez, meanwhile, was absent from Leganés’ squad this weekend, for reasons yet to be made public.
A large chunk of Chelsea involvement in Dutch football has already been covered above, but Vitesse also had a domestic cup tie this week. Piazon and Van Aanholt each played 90 minutes in a comfortable 3-1 win over non leaguers RVVH.
Sam Hutchinson and Cristian Cuevas are yet to debut for the first team but both have turned out for the club’s reserves in recent weeks as they build fitness and familiarity with Dutch football ahead of more regular involvement.
Stipe Perica, the Croatian forward on loan at NAC Breda, earned a first start and an assist in their cup tie against amateur side Smitshoek in midweek, but was back on the bench for league action against Zwolle on Saturday. He saw mere seconds in stoppage time as the match finished 0-0.
There was a double-header of football in Serie A this week but for Wallace it meant two games watching from the substitutes bench. His involvement thus far has been sporadic and it was revealed this week that he was initially meant to have joined Vitesse, but chose Inter instead once their interest became apparent. It suggests he’s up for the fight to earn a first-team berth, but it may be a while before he proves successful.
After a week off from league duty last weekend, Matej Delac and FK Vojvodina returned to the pitch in the Serbian Cup in midweek, triumphing over Sloga Kraljevo on penalties. Curiously, Delac was substitutes after ninety minutes and played no part in the shootout.
Sunday’s schedule saw the visit of Partizan Belgrade to Stadion Karađorđe and it saw Vojvodina come out 2-1 winners. Delac remains unbeaten in league action and is proving himself capable now he finally has been given the chance to be somebody’s first choice.