It was quite the week for Chelsea’s loanees, with half a dozen goals scored, the odd assist, and a couple of important seasonal landmarks reached in what has been a rather sensational campaign on the loan front. We begin with the man with more goals than anybody else, Patrick Bamford.
Bamford has been front and centre in this weekly report for much of the season and was this week responsible for scoring the 100th goal by a Chelsea loanee during the 2013-14 campaign. It came 33 seconds into Derby County’s trip to Ipswich Town and was one of his more trademark finishes; slotting in at the near post to meet a cross cut back from the touchline.
The England Under-21 forward has enjoyed a return to the starting eleven in the last few games after a spell as a substitute and continued to make good on his opportunity at the weekend by netting for the 24th time this term – 17 of them for Milton Keynes Dons – with a smart finish to help Derby on their way to a 3-0 victory over Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
The Rams may have to settle for a playoff place given the form of both Leicester City and Burnley ahead of them, meaning Patrick will have ample opportunity to continue to polish his reputation as one of the finer striking prospects available to England (or perhaps Ireland) around right now.
With Chelsea strikers floundering at Crystal Palace on Saturday, Bamford’s form wasn’t much solace to a fanbase frustrated by a lack of efficiency in front of goal, and Romelu Lukaku’s form of late has done little to alleviate those feelings. The Belgian scored his 13th club goal of the season for Everton in an emphatic win away to Newcastle in midweek, and was impressive in the second half of Sunday’s 3-1 win away to Fulham. He’ll be integral in their battle for a Champions League place.
The goals continued to rain in elsewhere in the most productive week for loanees in 2014, and Thorgan Hazard took the opportunity to strike for the first time in the league since October as Zulte Waregem began their Belgian Playoff campaign with a fine 3-0 victory at Genk.
The younger Hazard netted a penalty on his 21st birthday to add to his only other effort this calendar year in the cup versus Cercle Brugge and took his personal tally to 12 for the season overall. The curious structure of the Jupiler League playoffs mean that despite finishing the ‘regular’ schedule ten points adrift of league leaders Club Brugge, Essevee find themselves just five away from top spot after all teams had their points cut in half.
Over in the Netherlands, the chances of a goal are always high, but Bertrand Traore had yet to add himself to the ever-growing list of Chelsea goalscorers until this past Saturday evening. His first goal in professional club football – having already found the mark for his national team – came late in the day as Vitesse drew 2-2 with Heerenveen; a result that did little to help their chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
For the first time in almost two months, three Blues boys were named in Peter Bosz’ starting eleven. Christian Atsu continued on the right wing, where he has played tremendously, with Lucas Piazon retaining his place on the left. Patrick van Aanholt returned to play at left-back in a defensive unit heavily impacted by injury and suspension, with regular left-back Rochdi Achenteh instead pressed into action on the opposite side of the pitch.
Vitesse attacked well but defended atrociously at times, a fact that has afflicted them since the turn of the year and seen them fall off the pace in the Eredivisie. Mike Havenaar opened the scoring but league top scorer Alfred Finnbogason levelled before the break, and some less than impressive defending by Van Aanholt allowed Bilal Başaçikoğlu to climb highest and head home to put Heerenveen ahead.
Atsu and Traore ensured the points were shared when they combined for a fine goal. The Burkinabe winger was a half time replacement for the injured Havenaar and played as well as he has since moving to Arnhem in January. He might have even won it in the closing moments but his free kick hit a combination of goalkeeper and crossbar before falling to safety.
Finally in our longest headliners section of the season, Cristian Cuevas made it a round twenty loanee goalscorers (or rather 19, Traore later made it 20) by grabbing FC Eindhoven’s third goal of a 4-0 thumping of Sparta Rotterdam on Friday night. The Chilean has appeared in every match since joining in January and continues to improve every week.
Ryan Bertrand started for Aston Villa away to Manchester United on Saturday, having a mixed day as his team went down 4-1. He has typically played in much the same fashion as he did when at his parent club; largely solid but prone to being exposed here and there. Villa’s second 4-1 reverse in a week did little to help his cause.
Victor Moses was an unused substitute for Liverpool against Sunderland in midweek, but got ten minutes from the bench on Sunday as Tottenham were waylaid 4-0 at Anfield.
In The Championship, Middlesbrough’s Kenneth Omeruo and Nathaniel Chalobah both started away to Huddersfield on Tuesday, with Chalobah substituted at half time and left on the bench for the weekend trip to Brighton. He got ten minutes towards the end of their 2-0 win at the Amex Stadium whilst Omeruo played the full match on both occasions having become their first choice centre-back.
Todd Kane started for Blackburn in a 3-3 midweek draw at Watford and might see more playing time before the end of the season after fellow right-back Adam Henley broke his ankle, but saw no further action at the weekend away to Millwall as Michael Keane got the nod ahead of him and scored, although the Manchester United youngster did also concede a penalty.
Josh McEachran played well in his 80-minute appearance for Wigan away to Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday, but was not included in the squad for the weekend trip to Bolton Wanderers.
Sam Hutchinson was replaced at half-time during Sheffield Wednesday’s win over Brighton after suffering a knee injury and he was absent for their 4-1 tonking by Watford on Saturday.
Injuries also affected League One involvement this week as George Saville missed out on Brentford’s trips to Rotherham and Oldham with a knock, and Milan Lalkovic took in just 45 minutes of Walsall’s win at Bradford before feeling a hamstring complaint. He’s been back at Cobham getting a bit of treatment and played no part in the Saddlers’ win over Shrewsbury.
The frequently-injured Daniel Pappoe, however, has managed to string a bunch of games together for Kingstonian since joining them a few weeks ago and played in defence for their pair of wins this week away to Bognor Regis Town and home to Bury Town.
The La Liga title race is set to go down to the final day of the season, and there is a very strong chance that Thibaut Courtois could once again be lifting silverware with Atlético Madrid. Another clean sheet in midweek helped his team on their way to a 1-0 win over Granada, and whilst he was beaten by a fairly soft goal at the weekend, Atléti beat Bilbao 2-1 and owed a lot to the Belgian custodian for making this crucial save with ten minutes remaining.
Oriol Romeu made his playing return from injury away to Almeria on Thursday, playing for the first time since the first day of February as he replaced the stricken Seydou Keita just before half time. He started at home to Getafe on Sunday and played the first half.
Marko Marin’s renaissance as a regular feature for Sevilla continued on Wednesday as he was in good form during their 2-1 win over Real Madrid, but he was rested as an unused substitute on Saturday as they lost their seven-match winning streak by going down 1-0 at Celta Vigo.
In the second division, Uli Dávila played 81 minutes of Córdoba’s 1-1 draw with Murcia, whilst the injured Jhon Pírez played no part for Leganés in their 1-0 reverse at the hands of Real Madrid C.
Stipe Perica played a few seconds for NAC Breda as a stoppage time substitute in their 2-2 draw with Utrecht.
Gael Kakuta was an unused substitute for Lazio against both Genoa and Parma this week. Wallace wasn’t even lucky enough to be on Inter’s bench…
Kurt Zouma returned to the Saint Etienne team for their local derby away to Lyon, and played well as Les Verts won 2-1.
Billy Clifford was back on the bench for Royal Antwerp’s trip to RBD Borinage on Sunday and stayed there for the duration of their 1-1 draw.
Mario Pašalić put in a decent ninety minutes for Hajduk Split in a 3-1 win over NK Zadar on Friday.
Matej Delač kept a clean sheet for FK Sarajevo in a goalless draw away to FK Borac.
Joao Rodriguez played 83 minutes for Uniautónoma in a 2-1 defeat to Junior in the Liga Postobon.