In the latest instalment of The Loan Report, Patrick Bamford continues to embrace the super-sub role at Derby County, whilst Victor Moses took advantage of a rare start for Liverpool to find the back of the net as both men ensured the unbroken streak of loanees scoring in every week of the 2013-14 season rolls on.
Bamford is yet to start a game for Steve McClaren’s side but has wasted little time in making his presence felt as for the second weekend running he came off the bench to find the back of the net and earn the Rams a share of the spoils.
Last time out he earned all three points at home to Brighton, and on Saturday his excellent finish from outside the box secured a 1-1 draw away to a Blackburn Rovers team which included Todd Kane for the first time since December 3rd. Having recovered from a thigh injury, he played the last ten or so minutes from the bench, but the story of the day really did belong to Bamford, who is now putting even more pressure on his new manager to be included from the start.
Moses, meanwhile, scored for the first time since making his Liverpool debut at Swansea way back in September. His first half strike away to Bournemouth set the Reds on their way to Round Five of the FA Cup and perhaps offered manager Brendan Rodgers a reminder of what he is capable of.
Romelu Lukaku was given the weekend off as Everton were able to brush aside third tier outfit Stevenage in the FA Cup without needing to call upon his services. Given the shocking state of the pitch and the serious injury to Bryan Oviedo that came out of the game, it was perhaps a blessing in disguise.
Ryan Bertrand also had the weekend off as Aston Villa were knocked out of the competition in the previous round by Sheffield United.
Josh McEachran joined up with Wigan Athletic this week but with match fitness and squad integration both lacking, played no part in the holders’ victory over Crystal Palace. Manage Uwe Rosler is excited at having the England Under-21 international on board, however, and told the Manchester Evening News of his hopes for the player over the coming months:
“Because of his outstanding qualities as a footballer – and the fact that he played for such a world-class team for 17 games in a season – the expectation on him was far too high to fully fulfil that week in, week out.
They sent him out on loan and for some reason his career has stalled a little bit. He didn’t progress as much as Josh and maybe Chelsea thought. Now, Josh comes into a situation here and Josh knows exactly what he needs, which way he will respond best and Chelsea also know that.
At the moment, Josh is not at his best so we have to make sure he recovers form, he recovers confidence and he is capable of performing consistently at a high tempo in the modern way of football.”
In The Championship, Nathaniel Chalobah received a cameo appearance from the bench on his Middlesbrough debut away to Leicester, whilst Kenneth Omeruo was an unused substitute as he builds up match fitness. Boro boss Aitor Karanka also took time out to speak with the media this week about his own Chelsea youngsters, revealing his intentions for Chalobah in particular:
“He can play in defence and midfield but for me I think he will play in the midfield position in front of the central defenders. He’s the kind of player who has the attributes to be a top player but he needs to improve every day.
He will train with us and we have the same methodology and philosophy as Chelsea. Of course I am not the same as Jose Mourinho, he is the top manager and I am only starting out, but I have the same feelings on football.”
In League One, Brentford went top of the table on Friday night with a televised win over Gillingham in which George Saville completed another impressive 90 minutes. He struck a perfect balance between the dirty, unsung defensive work (which came with his seventh yellow card of the season) and the more eye-catching midfield transition play, and continues to be a key part of the team despite the change of manager.
Milan Lalkovic played the full match for a Walsall team flying up the table, moving into a playoff spot on Saturday with a 5-1 hammering of Notts County. The Slovakian picked up a delightful assist for Febian Brandy’s second of three first half goals and had another impressive outing overall.
Vitesse Arnhem’s first home fixture of 2014 was a local derby against NEC Nijmegen and although their opponents came into the match bottom of the Eredivisie, the stature of the fixture meant it was always likely to be a hard-fought afternoon. So it proved, as a well below-par Vitesse performance ended in a 1-1 draw in a game they could easily have lost.
The most notable incident to take away from a Chelsea point of view was the debut of Bertrand Traore. The Burkina Faso international replaced a disappointing Lucas Piazon midway through the second half and injected pace, flair and confidence into the team, immediately looking at home in his surroundings despite limited training time with the squad. It shouldn’t take him long to make a considerable impact and he was lively throughout his 25 minutes.
Christian Atsu also had a strong game in an attacking midfield role where he floated between central and wide areas, often exchanging with Piazon, who was as quiet as he’s ever been in a black and yellow shirt. Atsu also provided the assist for Vitesse’s goal as his corner was headed home by the Israeli Dan Mori. Patrick van Aanholt was as influential as usual at left-back; getting forward with regular and positive effect but occasionally leaving too much space behind him into which NEC could break.
Stipe Perica reprised his role as a substitute for NAC Breda against Zwolle, getting 23 minutes from the bench in a 2-1 reverse.
Thibaut Courtois started his week well and finished it even better. He was impressive in Thursday’s intense Copa del Rey win over Athletic Bilbao, before hitting the headlines on Sunday with an early penalty save away to Rayo Vallecano. Atlético won the match 4-2 and Courtois stood no chance with either goal as one was heavily deflected and the other was an excellent finish by Joaquin Larrivey.
Oriol Romeu completed another full match for Valencia – picking up a third booking of the season – on Saturday in a 2-2 draw with Espanyol, whilst Marko Marin got twenty more minutes from Sevilla’s bench in a 3-2 defeat to Valencia’s local rivals Levante. Neither player is expected to return to Chelsea next season however, with both having expressed a desire to remain where they are and Marin’s number 21 shirt having already been given away to Nemanja Matic.
Uli Dávila was an unused substitute in Córdoba’s 1-0 defeat to Deportivo, with fans later questioning why the Mexican winger has been somewhat marginalised in recent weeks given his prior good form. Jhon Pírez was also an unused substitute in Leganés 1-0 win over Puerta Bonita, a sixth straight victory for the Segunda B promotion hopefuls.
Thorgan Hazard was this week named as Belgian Footballer of the Year for 2013; claiming the Golden Shoe awarded to the best player in Belgian domestic football during that calendar year. It was a richly-deserved accolade for a player who has been integral in helping Zulte Waregem become title contenders in back to back campaigns, although the week was also tinged with controversy as he refused to train for one day after having his request for a loan switch to Anderlecht rejected.
Back in Essevee colours on Saturday, a busy seven days ended on a sour note as Zulte went down 1-0 to lowly OH Leuven, leaving them ten points adrift of leaders Standard Liege.
Wallace didn’t play for Inter. Again.
A new country appearing in the Loan Report; FK Sarajevo will be the subject of our attentions between now and June after taking Croatian goalkeeper Matej Delac’s services on a temporary basis. Robert Jarni’s side are currently second in the league, two points behind Zeljeznicar, meaning Delac resumes his season once again chasing the title, as he was doing in Serbia with Vojvodina before Christmas.