It’s an Eredivisie-heavy Loan Report this week as despite some disappointing results for both Vitesse Arnhem and NAC Breda, Chelsea loanees at both clubs found the scoresheet to help extend the unbroken streak of scoring this season to a 34th week. We begin in Arnhem.
Vitesse haven’t enjoyed the best of form in recent weeks and four games without a win had not only damaged their Champions League hopes, but also threatened their chances of even qualifying for the Europa League automatically. A trip to Cambuur on Saturday evening gave them a chance to get back to winning ways but things continued to go against them as they twice surrendered a lead to eventually lose 4-3 in a topsy-turvy game.
With three Blues in the starting line-up the odds on Chelsea influence over proceedings were pretty high and so it transpired as both Christian Atsu and Bertrand Traore scored to continue their excellent recent run. Ghanaian international Atsu saw an early goal disallowed before finishing superbly for his fifth of the season just before half time after being released by a wonderful pass by Davy Pröpper, but Traore stole the show with a blockbuster of a strike to extend his personal run of scoring to three matches.
Both played well before tiring late in the game with Traore eventually being substituted, and together they’ve been integral to Peter Bosz’s side even being in with a chance of a result over the past month. Traore has earned three straight starts at centre-forward and repaid his manager’s faith with end product, whilst Atsu has shown that his talents extend to playing on either flank as well as in a central midfield role.
Lucas Piazon was an unused substitute whilst Patrick van Aanholt played 90 minutes at left-back but will look back on his display as one he might want to have done better in, with at least two Cambuur goals owing something to openings created down his side of the pitch.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Stipe Perica scored for the sixth time this season to give NAC Breda a chance of a point away to Groningen, but a stoppage time goal for the hosts meant the Croatian’s efforts were in vain.
They weren’t alone in contributing to a loanee goal tally that has now reached 115 as Patrick Bamford found the back of the net for the 25th time this season by poaching a smart effort for Derby County away to Blackpool on Tuesday night. It was the first of two 3-1 victories for the Rams this week as they do their best to chase down Burnley in second place, but the playoffs very much beckon with seven points to make up in four remaining matches.
Bamford was substituted with around twenty minutes to go in each game and was lucky not to have been injured in the latter against Huddersfield when he fell victim to a cumbersome challenge by Joel Lynch; one which earned the Terriers’ defender a second yellow card and a dismissal.
Thorgan Hazard’s form is picking back up at a crucial time for Zulte Waregem and he struck a stoppage-time winner against Club Brugge on Saturday to put his team within a point of the summit in the Belgian Jupiler League. Having gone some five months without scoring in the league, he now has two in three games since the league split and against all the odds, Francky Dury’s arguably team stand a better chance of winning the title this season than they did last.
Mario Pašalić became the sixth loanee to make his mark this week as he scored the lone goal for Hajduk Split in their 1-0 win over RNK Split.
It’s also worth giving Thibaut Courtois a share of the headlines this week as he helped Atlético Madrid qualify for a Champions League Semi Final berth and a clash against his parent club in a couple of weeks. In four matches against Barcelona this season he is yet to be on the losing team and a 1-0 win over the Catalans on Wednesday night saw him keep a twentieth clean sheet of the campaign en route to what may be a controversial tie versus Chelsea.
A statement by UEFA on Friday appeared to nix a clause demanding Atlético pay a fee every time they wanted to use the Belgian against his owners, but there are still whispers that he may not be involved in the final four as Atléti want to keep relations positive ahead of another year on loan next season. That much would be very surprising indeed but it’s an interesting if unnecessary distraction in the build-up to an enticing fixture.
A 2-0 win over Getafe on Sunday for clean sheet number twenty-one combined with a defeat for Barcelona ensured that Atléti remain very much title favourites with a handful of Liga games remaining.
Ryan Bertrand continued in a midfield role for Aston Villa as they continued their slide down the table with a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace. Bertrand was replaced with twenty minutes to and whilst he’s played pretty much as expected, it doesn’t bode especially well for his hopes of establishing himself as the long-term first-choice at left-back for Chelsea if he’s being moved away from the position whilst away on loan.
Victor Moses was a late and time-wasting substitute for Liverpool as they beat Manchester City 3-2 on Sunday.
Josh McEachran played the first half of Wigan Athletic’s midweek defeat at home to Millwall before featuring for 65 minutes at Wembley against Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi Final. Having played the same amount of time away to Manchester City in the previous round it was another good test for the midfielder and he rarely looked out of place on either occasion. His overall contribution was typically unflashy and lacking in true substance but he showed he could at least compete at this level, if not dominate or truly influence proceedings yet.
Todd Kane was not involved for Blackburn Rovers against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday and was an unused substitute against Sam Hutchinson’s Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. Hutch returned to the team after a four-game absence due to illness and injury and played 79 minutes (picking up a yellow card) in his usual midfield role.
Kenneth Omeruo was sent off for Middlesbrough in midweek as Aitor Karanka’s team finished with nine men but all three points at home to Birmingham City. He, like centre-back partner Ben Gibson, were given their marching orders for two cautionable offences and so the Nigerian served a one-match suspension for the testing trip to Burnley at the weekend.
Nathaniel Chalobah played the full duration of both games and was pressed into emergency duty at the heart of a 3-5-2 defence for the latter fixture; he fared superbly as Boro held onto a 1-0 win despite having another defender (Daniel Ayala) sent off late in the game and despite facing intense pressure throughout.
In League One, George Saville played 68 minutes from the start for Brentford in a 1-0 win over Crawley and then just over half an hour from the bench in a defeat at Swindon on Saturday. He came closer than any Bees player to earning a draw in the second outing but with four games remaining, promotion is within reaching distance for the West Londoners and two more wins will see them over the line.
Milan Lalkovic missed Walsall’s 1-0 defeat to Bristol City through a hamstring problem and the result all but ended the Saddlers’ hopes of a playoff place. Lalkovic has previously expressed an interest in staying at the club permanently but hinted it would likely depend on their promotion prospects and may now turn his attentions to a Championship opportunity once his Chelsea contract expires this summer.
Daniel Pappoe played well for Kingstonian as another clean sheet laid the foundation for a 1-0 win against Lowestoft.
Chelsea will be guaranteed a representative in this season’s UEFA Europa League Final as Sevilla (Marko Marin) were paired with Valencia (Oriol Romeu) in Friday’s Semi Final draw after both teams came through testing Quarter Final conclusions on Thursday. Romeu was an unused substitute as Valencia overturned a 3-0 first leg defeat to beat Basel 5-0 and 5-3 on aggregate, and Marin too watched on as his Sevilla team-mates thrashed Porto 4-1 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Marin missed out on a 2-0 derby win over Betis in the league on Sunday whilst Romeu played the duration of Valencia’s 2-1 win over Elche.
Uli Dávila started for Córdoba against Alcorcón on Sunday and played an hour of their 3-1 win, whilst Jhon Pírez continues to be absent from Leganés’ team in the third tier.
Kurt Zouma was once again left on the bench for Saint Etienne, this time for a trip to Reims. He remained unused and his absence since signing for Chelsea in January is almost certainly because he’s no longer of long-term use to the club and Les Verts would rather feature players who actually have a future there.
Cristian Cuevas was the unfortunate scorer of an own goal for FC Eindhoven in their 3-0 defeat at the hands of Willem II.
Gael Kakuta was an unused substitute for Lazio, Wallace was not involved at all for Inter. This pattern is likely to repeat forever more.
Billy Clifford was given a rare start for Royal Antwerp for their trip to White Star Bruxelles and he proved an inspired selection by manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink by playing well in a 3-0 victory.
Matej Delač kept a fourth straight clean sheet for FK Sarajevo in a 3-0 win over NK Zvijezda; a result which leaves his team very much in title contention in third place.
Perhaps predictably, Joao Rodriguez was not involved for Uniautónoma in the first match following his father’s sacking as manager, and he could end up not featuring at all between now and returning to Europe for pre-season. An interview this week clearly hinted at him joining Vitesse Arnhem for next term, which would surprise very few as he lacks the required criteria to qualify for an English work permit.