In this week’s Loan Report, Patrick Bamford and Christian Atsu continued the Chelsea loanee goalscoring streak into a 27th consecutive week of the 2013-14 season, but it was a mixed bag elsewhere as a number of familiar names and faces encountered a change of circumstance.
Having scored in four consecutive Derby County matches, it came as something of a disappointment when Bamford failed to score against Queens Park Rangers a fortnight ago. The England Under-21 international forward rarely goes more than a game without scoring, though, and was back to doing what he does best this past Tuesday when he netted arguably the pick of his 22 strikes this season; a sumptuous long-range effort away to Sheffield Wednesday to secure three more points for the promotion-chasing Rams:
Manager Steve McClaren revealed afterwards that he had been considering substituting his match-winner after a performance which had seen him marginalised wide on the right and able to contribute little, but he left him on and was repaid handsomely. He did give him the hook at half time of the weekend win over Bournemouth, but the former England manager indicated it was part of an effort to change something about the team rather than because of any fault on Bamford’s part.
Over in the Netherlands, Atsu grabbed his third goal of the season as Vitesse ended a five-game winless skid by defeating RKC Waalwijk 3-1 at the Gelredome. It was a notable win for Peter Bosz’s side as it came without the services of Patrick van Aanholt, who was suspended, and Lucas Piazon, who was dropped to the bench.
Piazon has struggled for form since the winter break and was finally left out of the starting eleven having not contributed a single goal or assist since December. His place was taken by Bertrand Traore, although the Burkinabe winger was little better in his 45-minute outing. He had one or two sights of goal in a first half which saw Vitesse head in trailing 1-0.
It finally all came together in the second half when substitutes Valeri Qazaishvili and Renato Ibarra entered the fray and changed the match. Japanese forward Mike Havenaar equalised when finishing a cross from Van Aanholt’s left-back replacement Rochdi Achenteh, and then minutes later Qazaishvili put his team ahead with a lovely effort from the edge of the area.
Atsu sealed the win late on with a composed volley following good play by Ibarra, and it was the least the Ghanaian deserved for his performance. He played a controlled, composed game in a central area for the first half before moving to the left wing in the second, and the shift allowed him to run at his opponent and produce dangerous attacking situations.
Romelu Lukaku is just about fit to return to Everton, but was unable to play this weekend anyway as his loan club faced his parent club.
Victor Moses saw ten minutes of playing time from the bench in Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Swansea, but did little more than offer fresh legs as the Reds sought to hold onto their lead in a topsy-turvy encounter.
Ryan Bertrand played 75 minutes for Aston Villa away to Newcastle and put in his usual shift. Villa lost 1-0 to a late goal conceded after the left-back had been replaced.
In The Championship, Kenneth Omeruo and Nathaniel Chalobah both started for Middlesbrough for just the second time and both earned decent reviews from home supporters in their 0-0 draw at home to Leeds. It was the sixth game in a row Boro have failed to score, and their fourth goalless draw in five outings. It reflects well on their defensive effort, at least…
Todd Kane was an unused substitute for Blackburn away to Reading as manager Gary Bowyer has gone back to using Adam Henley at right-back instead. The pair have each been in and out of the team all season, with little reason or rhyme as to exactly why.
Josh McEachran was once again on the bench for Wigan on Tuesday as they hosted Barnsley, but was forced into early action as midfielder Ben Watson suffered a second broken leg in just over a year. However unfortunate the circumstance, an opportunity has opened up for McEachran and he played well in an eventual 2-0 win and then again by starting and playing an hour in a weekend win at Brighton.
Rosler also touched on the Chelsea youngster in his post-Barnsley talk with Wigan Today:
“Josh came on against Barnsley and took five or 10 minutes to settle in, but I thought he played very well. Everything went through him down that left-hand side, and we looked a dangerous team going forward.”
“In the second half, for one reason or another, we passed the ball around the back four a lot but we never really got Josh involved. They marked him out of the game, they tried to run over our midfield, they brought on another forward and went long at every opportunity.”
“We couldn’t get Josh on the ball, and I just felt I needed to bring on a little bit more energy and physicality to cope with their approach.”
“That doesn’t mean I was disappointed with Josh’s contribution. I was delighted with the way he got on the ball and I know our supporters appreciate him as much as I do.”
Sam Hutchinson made his Sheffield Wednesday debut on Tuesday night against Bamford and Derby, playing the last half an hour in central midfield. He continued there away to Huddersfield at the weekend and claimed an assist in a win which also saw him play 90 minutes for the first time since September 2012.
Hutch spoke rather candidly to BBC Radio Sheffield post-match about his form, his injuries, and how he’s enjoying every single moment of the latest chance to enjoy whatever he can of a professional career.
In League One, Brentford’s nineteen-match unbeaten run was ended by promotion rivals Wolves on Saturday. George Saville played 86 minutes.
Milan Lalkovic played 78 minutes for Walsall in a 2-1 defeat to Crawley, and earned a second yellow card in his last four matches for alleged simulation.
Thibaut Courtois played in his first Champions League knockout tie on Tuesday night and, as you might have expected, took it in his stride and recorded a clean sheet away to AC Milan. Apparently not satisfied with that, he also pulled off a world-class save to preserve Atlético’s 1-0 win.
What came on Sunday, nobody could have predicted. A trip to Osasuna saw perhaps Europe’s best defence fall apart in a calamitous first half in which the hosts scored three unanswered goals, only the last of which might have been levelled against the Belgian as a mistake.
Marko Marin returned from his recent/latest absence for Sevilla to play just over a half of their 2-2 Europa League draw away to Maribor, but was unused in their 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday. The German had chances to secure a win in Slovenia, but was unable to capitalise on them.
Oriol Romeu missed Valencia’s matches against Dynamo Kyiv and Granada due to injury. He’s back in England rehabilitating following knee surgery and should be out for another 4-6 weeks.
In the second division, Mexican forward Uli Dávila has a new manager at Córdoba, and it’s a familiar face to many Chelsea fans in Albert Ferrer. Chapi opted to leave Dávila on the bench for his first match in charge at home to Jaén, and he would remain there as the match finished scoreless.
Another tier down in Segunda B, Leganés beat Conquense 1-0 and did so without Jhon Pírez being in the matchday squad. The Uruguyan forward turned 21 in the week but was nowhere to be seen as Leganés continue to put together a very impressive season.
Thorgan Hazard returned from a one-match suspension and claimed an assist for Zulte Waregem, but ended up on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline away to Charleroi.
Billy Clifford was an unused substitute for Antwerp in a 3-0 win away to Virton.
Gael Kakuta made his Lazio debut in the Europa League in midweek, playing a lively 25 minutes at home to Ludogorets. He remained on the bench on Sunday against Sassuolo and wasn’t given a chance to impress.
Wallace did not play for Inter. Wallace never plays for Inter.
Kurt Zouma was surprisingly dropped to the bench for Saint Etienne’s trip to Bastia on Saturday and he was only used as a stoppage time substitute to waste a few seconds of their 2-0 win.
Chelsea’s non-Vitesse Eredivisie loanee, Stipe Perica, was suspended this weekend and will also be suspended next week owing to his red card last time out against Feyenoord.
Cristian Cuevas started for second division FC Eindhoven in a 3-2 win over FC Dordrecht on Friday.
Following three goals in his two previous matches, Mario Pašalić was held off the scoresheet this weekend, but Hajduk Split beat NK Lokomotiva. Pašalić did receive a Croatian Under-21 call-up this week, joining Perica in the squad.
FK Sarajevo and Matej Delac return from the Bosnian league’s winter break next weekend with a trip to Čelik.