We didn’t have quite as many goals this week but the one we can bring you belongs to Izzy Brown, and it was his first in senior professional football.
Injuries have struck Vitesse down of late, including a long lay-off for Dominic Solanke, and so Brown has not only been able to enjoy a regular run of starts after his own spell on the sidelines, but on Sunday he was pressed into starting as the centre-forward away to Roda. It paid off handsomely in a strong performance capped by his first goal of the season:
He hit the bar in the second half and was eventually substituted a minute from time, when Chinese teenager Yuning Zhang came on and scored a last-gasp winner to claim a 2-1 win for Rob Maas’ side. Lewis Baker played a full match in midfield once again, Nathan was an unused substitute, and Danilo Pantic has severed ties with the club and returned to Chelsea. In an interview with the Serbian media this week he was highly critical of the Arnhem side and, at one point, appeared to rather harshly suggest that they have something against Serbian players in general. Not the best way to make an impression…
Nathan Aké played well for Watford in their 1-0 defeat at home to league leaders Leicester on Saturday evening having been rested for the midweek defeat at Manchester United. He was impressive at both ends of the pitch and hit the crossbar with a well-timed header late in the first half.
Patrick Bamford saw his most significant time in a Norwich shirt so far, getting around half an hour away to Swansea on Saturday after being ineligible to feature against Chelsea on Tuesday. He had one good chance and two half-chances, neither of which he could take, and the Canaries went down by a goal to nil.
Victor Moses missed both of West Ham’s matches this week through a minor injury picked up in training.
In Championship action, Tomas Kalas continued to rotate in and out of the Middlesbrough defence, not playing any part in their defeat to Blackburn but then coming back in on Friday and helping the promotion-chasers to a 2-1 win at home to Wolves. After an in-and-out spell he seems to be back in Aitor Karanka’s good graces again and is getting his fair share of playing time in a back four which is heavily changed from one game to the next.
Michael Hector turned in another impressive midfield display for Reading in their 2-2 draw at home to Fulham, claiming a league season-high sixteen turnovers in the middle of the pitch during a frenetic contest. He’s earned plenty of positive reviews for his quick adaptation to a new(ish) position and, as he approaches a summer where Chelsea will be undergoing another bout of change, adding more strings to his bow will do not harm.
Lucas Piazon was an unused substitute in that match, whilst John Swift got ninety minutes for Brentford in a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Charlton.
Charly Musonda caught the eye once again this week with another superlative performance contributing to Betis’ renaissance. They took Espanyol apart 3-0 on Thursday with the Belgian claiming an assist and performing well under the watchful eyes of national team manager Marc Wilmots.
The news of Wilmots’ interest then saw Zambia step up to the plate on Friday and offer Charly Jr a call-up to the country once captained by his father, but it was politely declined and, for now at least, a surprise call-up to Belgium’s Euro 2016 squad remains the target. He did well again on Sunday in a 2-0 win at home to Granada but in a different way this time; Betis were down to ten men for almost the entire second half and manager Juan Merino asked Musonda to sit in midfield alongside Alfred N’Diaye and adopt a more defensive role. He did that with aplomb and is yet to taste defeat in his six outings at the club.
Christian Atsu returned to the Málaga team with fifteen minutes against Valencia in midweek and then a full match away to Deportivo on Saturday.
There was also a double round of Bundesliga action this week. Andreas Christensen and Borussia Mönchengladbach helped themselves to a 4-0 win over Stuttgart before losing 2-1 at Wolfsburg, whilst Papy Djilobodji and Werder Bremen claimed a pair of 4-1 wins, the former against Leverkusen featuring an own goal from the Senegalese defender.
Juan Cuadrado played the full duration of Juventus’ dramatic Coppa Italia Semi Final against Inter in midweek as Inter won 3-0 to ensure a 3-3 aggregate scoreline and a penalty shootout. Cuadrado himself didn’t take a spot kick and he then took his turn to rest for their weekend Serie A win at Atalanta.
Nathaniel Chalobah played the last five minutes of Napoli’s 3-1 win against Chievo and Stipe Perica played twenty minutes for Udinese away to Frosinone as two of the lesser-used loanees managed to get on the pitch for a change.
Jeremie Boga played the last ten minutes for a Rennes team already well out of sight against Nantes, winding up 4-1 winners, but Mario Pašalić missed Monaco’s 2-2 draw at Caen with the injury that has kept him out of their last three fixtures.
Marco van Ginkel played a full match for PSV in a routine 3-0 win at Groningen, whilst it was very much business as usual for Todd Kane this week; NEC Nijmegen kept a clean sheet, won 1-0, Kane played ninety hard-working minutes and was booked. NEC now sit seventh in the Eredivisie, a point behind local rivals Vitesse.
Sint-Truiden’s slide continued on Saturday with a 3-0 defeat away to Club Brugge that left them outside of the relegation play-off places on goal difference, and to make matters worse Victorien Angban was sent off for the third time this season. He picked up a pair of yellow cards in twelve second half minutes to receive his marching orders yet again, with Cristian Cuevas also earning a caution. As usual, there was no Joao Rodriguez.
Kenneth Omeruo was back for Kasimpasa and helped them to a 2-1 win at home to Antalyaspor, but despite also playing a full ninety minutes Marko Marin ended up on the losing side as Trabzonspor lost 2-0 at Konyaspor.
Wallace played 67 minutes of Gremio’s 4-0 Copa Libertadores victory over LDU Quito on Thursday and could feature against Internacional a few hours after this report goes live. If he does anything of note, you’ll be able to hear about it on Twitter @chelseayouth.
The right-back was, however, not named in a Brazil friendly squad this week comprised of players eligible to play at this summer’s Rio Olympics, but there is still time for him to work his way into their plans.