In the absence of any of the usual faces from the scoresheet this week, it fell to Slovakian Under-21 international Milan Lalkovic to keep the unbroken sequence of at least one Chelsea youngster scoring whilst away on loan this season alive. We begin the latest Loan Report with the Walsall forward.
The past month or so has undoubtedly been Lalkovic’s most productive spell of the campaign to date, with four of his now five goals coming in that period. This weekend he netted away to Tranmere Rovers, the same team against which he struck on the opening day back in early August. Then, his was an instinctive first time finish from the edge of the box, but he went one better in the return clash, running from midfield with purpose and a threat before curling in from more than 25 yards out.
It was the perfect way to respond to earning an extended stay at the Midland club after putting pen to paper this week on a renewal of terms which will keep him at Walsall until the end of the season.
Elsewhere in England it was a mixed bag of a weekend with few individual highlights. Romelu Lukaku had a productive enough afternoon for Everton in a victory over Norwich, and helped lay on the game’s opening goal for Gareth Barry with some impressive old-school forward hold-up play.
Victor Moses was, as usual, a substitute for Liverpool away to Stoke, and didn’t get any time on the pitch as it’s not easy when a player joins a big club, or something.
In The Championship, Patrick Bamford made his Derby County debut on a Friday night to forget for the Rams as they were pallid and overwhelmed in the face of a Leicester City onslaught, losing 4-1 at the King Power Stadium. Bamford received just over half an hour from the bench in the second half and displayed his lively movement and awareness, but was unable to fashion a shot on Kasper Schmeichel’s goal.
Nathaniel Chalobah was not involved in Nottingham Forest’s matchday squad and with his deal at the City Ground due to expire on Wednesday, his involvement with the club has effectively finished. Another temporary move beckons, with Middlesbrough believed to be keen on adding a second Chelsea player during the month of January. The first, Kenneth Omeruo, was not on hand to make his debut this weekend but should be a regular fixture going forward.
Todd Kane remains sidelined with a troublesome thigh for Blackburn and is still back at Cobham receiving treatment from his parent club.
In League One, George Saville will remain with promotion-chasing Brentford until the end of the season and was his usual impressive self in a 90-minute midfield display for the Bees in a 2-0 win against Port Vale, one which kept them atop the division.
Sam Walker kept another clean sheet for Colchester United in a 3-0 win over Gillingham and will now turn his attention to staying at the Weston Homes Community Stadium longer than the next week, when his loan is due to expire. It would not be a total surprise to see a permanent deal arise from the situation either.
Thibaut Courtois and Atlético Madrid featured in the banner match of the weekend across Europe as they hosted Barcelona in a Primera Liga title showdown. The eventual goalless draw reflected the tactical, safety-first nature of the game, but it also represented a second straight clean sheet for Courtois against the Catalain giants, which is no mean feat, even if he had relatively little to do.
He was involved in midweek action earlier in the week too, featuring for Atléti in a 1-1 draw against Valencia in the Copa del Rey. Oriol Romeu wasn’t involved but did start once again under new manager Juan Antonio Pizzi in the league and was amongst the better performers in their 2-1 defeat at Celta Vigo. The midfielder deserves credit for earning a reprieve having struggled for playing time earlier this season and currently looks like being one of Los Che’s more influential players.
Marko Marin will be hoping for similar redemption as he continues his return from a lengthy injury layoff. He got another ten minutes from the bench this weekend in Sevilla’s 1-1 draw with Elche.
In La Segunda, Uli Dávila was on Córdoba’s bench for the trip to Mallorca and remained there for the duration of the 2-2 draw. A tier further down, Leganés beat Amorebieta 4-0 without needing to call upon the services of Jhon Pírez, who was also an unused substitute.
The winter break remains in full effect for another week yet in the Eredivisie but Vitesse have been active during their warm weather training camp in Abu Dhabi and played friendlies against Wolfsburg and Hamburg this past week. It offered a first chance to see Bertrand Traore in yellow and black and he didn’t disappoint, laying on a goal for Lucas Piazon in the first of those two games.
You can see it towards the end of this interview with Piazon:
The Jupiler League also remains on winter hiatus, meaning no further action for Thorgan Hazard at this point.
Wallace is highly unlikely to play for Inter tomorrow night against Chievo, especially considering he didn’t even receive a call up for their Coppa Italia defeat at Udinese in midweek.