As the end of the season moves ever closer, particularly in the English football league, the stakes remain high for a number of Chelsea’s loanees. For Patrick Bamford, the prize of Premier League football next season remains high on the agenda and this week he was up to his usual tricks in trying to drive his team there.
Middlesbrough faced two games in the space of three days and they were amongst the sternest test they could have faced at this stage of the season. They hosted playoff-chasing Wolves at the Riverside on Tuesday before travelling to Norwich on Friday night in a battle of two of the four teams fighting it out for one of the two promotion places.
Boro flew out of the traps against Wolves, finding themselves 2-0 ahead inside a quarter of an hour. Bamford created the first before scoring the second himself, his 17th goal in the league and 19th of the season in all competitions. Tomas Kalas weighted in with the assist in his penultimate appearance before the end of his loan; that came at Norwich when he was part of a sterling defensive effort to secure a 1-0 win.
Bamford suffered an ankle injury in the first half of that one that severely hindered his impact on the rest of the match, including him missing a sitter late in the game to secure the win. Kenneth Omeruo played the last half hour as a sub against Wolves but was not involved against Norwich.
Boro sit joint-second in the Championship with two games to go as they tussle with Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich to join Chelsea amongst the elite next season.
Lewis Baker, meanwhile, is doing his level best to help MK Dons out of League One and into the Championship. Becoming an increasingly important figure in their youthful midfield, he turned in two fine displays this week, first netting his third goal for the club away to Fleetwood before doing everything but in a 6-1 home thrashing of Leyton Orient at the weekend. He helped lay on two goals, struck the woodwork twice, and although he was initially credited with their second goal it was clearly not his.
Finally, Nathaniel Chalobah didn’t score but deserves a share of the headlines for his impressive display in Reading’s FA Cup Semi Final against Arsenal. Playing with pain-killing injections owed to a recent injury, he turned in a top-flight performance against the country’s form team and certainly looked as if he belonged amongst the best. He was forced off during extra time with the effects of his injury wearing him down but it was a strong display under the Wembley arch.
It’ll be a quiet Premier League outlook for the rest of the season as Victor Moses has been ruled out of action for the remainder of it after suffering an injury last week. Christian Atsu hasn’t been able to work his way into affairs at Everton either, and remained absent from their squad this weekend.
Nathan Aké was named Reading’s Man of the Match in their midweek defeat to Bournemouth – a match Chalobah played 67 minutes of – but couldn’t feature against Arsenal at the weekend due to being cup-tied.
Todd Kane played a rare ninety minutes for Nottingham Forest as they lost 3-1 to Watford on Wednesday, and he was duly left out of the matchday squad at the weekend for the trip to his former club Blackburn.
In League One, John Swift only saw late substitute duty in each of Swindon’s matches this week, whilst Alex Davey missed out twice for Scunthorpe through injury and has returned to Chelsea for treatment this week.
It was another largely successful weekend for Vitesse Arnhem as they recorded a 3-0 win over Dordrecht and saw Feyenoord lose at home to Go Ahead Eagles to mathematically keep alive their chances of qualifying directly for the Europa League.
Bertrand Traore and Josh McEachran started again, the latter covering for Davy Pröpper through suspension, and they were both once again in very good form. Traore created a goal whilst McEachran controlled the midfield, finishing the season in the best form he’s shown for a long time. Wallace was not involved as disciplinary measures following last weekend’s arrest continue to curtail his involvement.
Marco van Ginkel’s regular run of action for Milan continued with a start in the Milan derby against Inter, but the game was a damp squib lacking anything memorable.
Mohamed Salah played all of Fiorentina’s Europa League Quarter Final away to Dynamo Kyiv on Thursday and may be rested a bit for their Serie A match against Verona tomorrow night.
Stipe Perica was an unused substitute for Udinese away to Chievo.
Rayo Vallecano beat Almeria 2-0 with Gael Kakuta claiming his sixth assist of the season, whilst Elche and Mario Pašalić face Real Sociedad at home tomorrow night.
Lucas Piazon played ten minutes of Eintracht Frankfurt’s 0-0 draw with Gladbach on Friday; Oriol Romeu didn’t even get that as Stuttgart lost at Augsburg.
Marko Marin is still injured.
Uli Dávila started for Vitória Setúbal at home to Estoril but Joao Rodriguez was once again not involved, begging the question as to why on earth he was ever sent there.
Matej Delač continued in goal for FK Sarajevo in their 1-1 draw with Čelik Mostar.