Following a few months of Chelsea’s England-based loanees getting the job done, they firmly handed over to their continental counterparts this week. We have four goals to bring you from action on the other side of the Channel, beginning with a wonderfully in-form Bertrand Traore.
Vitesse weren’t enjoying the best of seasons until the end of November, and particularly found themselves struggling in front of goal. Manager Peter Bosz decided to make Traore his permanent centre forward and hasn’t looked back. The Burkina Faso international scored his ninth goal in 22 appearances on Saturday, and it was by some measure his best so far.
Vitesse are unbeaten in four matches now – four in which Traore has featured since returning from the African Cup of Nations – meaning neither Wallace nor Josh McEachran can force their way into the starting eleven. Both were on the bench against Willem II with the Brazilian defender playing the last twenty minutes and McEachran remaining unused.
In Italy, Mohamed Salah marked his first start for Fiorentina with a goal and an assist in the first half of a 3-1 win against Sassuolo. His goal was well-taken and familiar by his standards; bursting through the middle (playing as a second striker) to latch onto a long ball and slotting home into the bottom corner.
As if that wasn’t enough, Lucas Piazon also found time to interject with his second goal of the season to help Eintracht Frankfurt defeat Schalke 1-0. He came off the bench to deliver a looping header and ensure Eintracht move into the top half of the Bundesliga.
To top it off, Gael Kakuta – who has started every one of Rayo Vallecano’s 23 league matches this season – scored the decisive goal in a 2-0 win over Villarreal for the struggling Madrid outfit.
It was FA Cup weekend in England but it ended badly almost all round for Chelsea’s loanee combatants.
Middlesbrough were unable to repeat their heroics from the trip to Manchester City in the previous round as they went down 2-0 at Arsenal; Patrick Bamford lasted just under an hour in a hard-working display in which he switched off momentarily for the first of Oliver Giroud’s two goals, whilst Kenneth Omeruo put in a lot of good work at centre-back. Tomas Kalas was prevented from playing due to what manager Aitor Karanka described as ‘paperwork issues’.
Victor Moses and Stoke too fell by the wayside as they were hammered 4-1 at Blackburn Rovers; the Nigerian being substituted after 67 minutes following 80 in midweek at home to Manchester City as they lost by the same scoreline. Nathaniel Chalobah will instead be the sole Blue hope left in England’s prestigious competition as he was a part of Reading’s 2-1 win at Derby County, playing 79 minutes of what has to be considered an upset win.
Chalobah had also played a full ninety minutes for the Royals in midweek league action but was on the losing side as Leeds came away from the Madejski Stadium with a 2-0 win. Todd Kane, meanwhile, was an unused substitute for Nottingham Forest as they beat Wigan 3-0 before mercifully also remaining there on Saturday as they drew 4-4 with Blackpool on a pitch that was scarcely believable and more closely resembling a poorly-kept allotment. Islam Feruz was not involved for Blackpool.
Kane is however yet to feature under new manager Dougie Freedman and, in a season of flux for him so far, may once again be on the move before very much longer as Chelsea increasingly look to ensure their prospects are featuring regularly. They intervened swiftly this week to recall Lewis Baker from Sheffield Wednesday after the talented England Under-20 midfielder was omitted from two consecutive matchday squads, and a suitable alternative will now doubtless be lined up.
In League One, John Swift was a sub in back-to-back Swindon matches and although he came off the bench in both, they were defeated on each occasion. The first came away to Oldham in midweek before a 3-1 reverse at the hands of Alex Davey and Scunthorpe. Davey was handed the sponsors’ Man of the Match award for his second impressive display (back in his favoured position of centre-back) in five days, having also done well in a 1-1 draw away to Coventry City.
Alex Kiwomya played half an hour of Barnsley’s 2-1 defeat to Fleetwood in the last match of Danny Wilson’s spell in charge as manager. He was then left out altogether for the weekend 5-1 hammering away to Crawley.
Christian Atsu, fresh off the back of being named the best player at the African Cup of Nations, was out of action owing to Everton having been eliminated from the FA Cup.
Mario Pašalić and Elche take on Eibar for a second straight Monday night outing. You can keep up with his involvement on Twitter @chelseayouth.
Salah aside, it was a quiet affair as Marco van Ginkel (Milan) and Stipe Perica (Udinese) were unused substitutes this weekend.
Oriol Romeu played the entirety of Stuttgart’s 2-1 defeat at Hoffenheim, a result that leaves VfB rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga. Thorgan Hazard got twenty minutes from the bench – picking up a yellow card – as Borussia Mönchengladbach beat Köln 1-0.
Uli Dávila played the last ten minutes of Vitória Setúbal’s 3-0 defeat against Benfica, whilst Joao Rodriguez is yet to link up with the club following the South American Under-20 Championships.
Marko Marin was not involved for Anderlecht’s 1-1 draw against Mechelen.
Arles-Avignon didn’t play Matej Delač again as they drew 2-2 away to Tours.