Thirty-three weeks of the 2013-14 club football season have passed and every single one of them has featured at least one goal by a Chelsea loanee. Last week’s six-goal extravaganza would have been hard to match, but the assortment of young Blues plying their trade around the world certainly tried their best and weighed in with four more to take the running tally to 109 overall.
Romelu Lukaku arguably deserves the biggest part of the shared headlines as he helped Everton destroy Arsenal 3-0 at Goodison Park on Sunday in a match that completely blew open the race for fourth place. Lukaku battered his way through the visiting defence for the 85 minutes he spent on the pitch and after playing a part in Steven Naismith’s opener, he scored a sensational second. Driving in from the right – where he spent much of the game – he beat two men before drilling an unstoppable shot low past Wojciech Szczesny.
With Christian Benteke out for the rest of the season and the World Cup, the stage is set for Lukaku to make an even bigger name for himself in Brazil this coming June amidst hopes of earning a chance to impressive for Jose Mourinho next season.
Also on the scoresheet this weekend was Nathaniel Chalobah, who grabbed his first goal for Middlesbrough in a 1-0 win over Derby County. It was his third goal overall this term after two for Nottingham Forest between September and December, and it meant victory for him and fellow Blue Kenneth Omeruo against Patrick Bamford’s playoff-bound Rams. Bamford was replaced ten minutes from time having rarely had a sniff against Omeruo, who has emerged as Boro’s best defender and a real find for Aitor Karanka.
Over in Holland on Sunday lunchtime, Vitesse Arnhem faced their biggest test for many a week as they took on Eredivisie leaders Ajax at the Gelredome. An Ajax win combined with a Feyenoord defeat would have secured a fourth straight league title for the Amsterdam club, whilst a defeat for Vitesse would likely have ended any hopes of automatic qualification for the Europa League.
The points were shared in an entertaining 1-1 draw as Vitesse played as well as they have in 2014; led by two Chelsea youngsters in Bertrand Traore and Christian Atsu. The African duo terrorised Ajax in the first half and linked up tremendously to great effect on numerous occasions. Traore scored for the second week in a row but both players (amongst others) had great chances to put their team out of sight before half time. They didn’t take them though, and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson grabbed an equaliser early in the second half.
Patrick van Aanholt started at left-back ahead of Rochdi Achenteh for the first time since February and whilst he didn’t have the best game of his career, he did more good than bad and was typically positive going forward. Lucas Piazon played the last ten minutes from the bench due to not being 100% fit following a recent ankle injury.
In Croatia, midfielder Mario Pašalić scored for the fourth time since agreeing to join Chelsea on the last day of January, but his effort proved scant consolation for a Hajduk Split team humbled 4-1 away to Rijeka in the Adriatic derby. He has ten goals and five assists in 24 league games from central midfield overall this season and will be moving onto bigger things next season when he officially puts pen to paper.
Ryan Bertrand started as a left midfielder for Aston Villa at home to Fulham on Saturday but it was a match to forget for everyone in claret and blue as they went down 2-1 to Felix Magath’s side. He moved to left-back midway through the second half when Joe Bennett was replaced but it was a poor day all round for Paul Lambert’s side.
Victor Moses did not play for Liverpool away to West Ham.
In The Championship, Todd Kane had another struggle of a week for Blackburn after he was an unused substitute at home to Brighton before missing out on the squad altogether at home to Ipswich. Josh McEachran played ten minutes of Wigan’s draw with Leicester on Tuesday but was not involved against Leeds on Saturday.
Sam Hutchinson was unable to shake off a knee injury in time to face Leicester on Friday night but is edging closer to a return, according to manager Stuart Gray.
Injury has afflicted Chelsea’s two League One loanees in recent weeks but both George Saville and Milan Lalkovic returned to action over the past seven days. Saville got twenty minutes from the bench away to Sheffield United in midweek and extended that to half an hour (picking up a booking) as Brentford smashed Notts County 3-1 on Saturday, whilst Lalkovic returned from a hamstring problem with twenty minutes of his own for Walsall away to Port Vale. The Slovakian came as close as any Saddler to scoring in their 1-0 defeat, stinging the hands of Sam Johnson with a shot from the edge of the area late on.
Daniel Pappoe had another double-header of a week for Kingstonian but helped keep two more clean sheets in a goalless draw at Grays and a 4-0 win at Cray.
Thibaut Courtois continues to go from strength to strength and this week played his part in a sterling Atlético Madrid effort to earn a 1-1 draw away to Barcelona in the Champions League before keeping another clean sheet (his 19th of the club season) on Saturday in a 1-0 win over Villarreal to keep his team top of La Liga. An announcement on his immediate future is expected in the next day or two, with all signs pointing to a contract extension at the very least and a possible fourth year on loan in Madrid.
Marko Marin played 63 minutes of Sevilla’s 1-0 Europa League reverse at FC Porto and came off the bench for the final fifteen minutes of their 4-1 win against Espanyol on Sunday and managed to claim an assist for one of Kevin Gameiro’s two goals.
Oriol Romeu was an unused substitute for Valencia’s defeat to Basel and only played a handful of stoppage time seconds in a 0-0 draw at Valladolid.
In the Segunda, Uli Dávila started away to Sporting Gijon for Córdoba and played well in their 2-1, even going close to a goal of his own only to be denied by the crossbar.
Jhon Pírez remains injured and played no part for Leganés away to Getafe B.
The Jupiler League title playoffs picked up considerably this weekend as a 2-0 win for Thorgan Hazard and Zulte Waregem over league leaders Standard Liege put Essevee within two points of the summit after two of the ten final rounds. Hazard was in top form and claimed another assist with the corner from which Sven Kums headed home for 2-0.
Billy Clifford was not involved for Royal Antwerp in their 1-1 draw versus Roeselaere.
Away from Vitesse, Stipe Perica played ten minutes for NAC Breda in a 2-1 loss to Go Ahead Eagles in midweek and then 25 minutes or so in another losing cause, this time to FC Twente, on Saturday.
Cristian Cuevas and FC Eindhoven take on Jong Ajax on Monday night; any involvement for the Chilean will be added here in an updated revision and also included on Twitter @chelseayouth.
Kurt Zouma was an unused substitute for Saint Etienne at home to Nice.
Gael Kakuta was an unused substitute for Lazio against Sampdoria, with 17 year-old debutant Joseph Minala getting on ahead of him for the final ten minutes.
Wallace did not play for Inter.
Matej Delac kept a third straight clean sheet for FK Sarajevo in a goalless draw with Rudar on Sunday. He was rested for a midweek cup tie.
Joao Rodriguez came off the bench and featured for the entire second half for Uniautónoma in their 3-1 defeat away to Once Caldas in midweek before playing an hour on Saturday in another loss, this time at the hands of Alianza Petrolera. The latter resulted in the dismissal of manager Willy Rodriguez – Joao’s father – and brings the Chelsea youngster’s immediate future at the club into doubt.