Two of Chelsea’s best and brightest youngsters caught the eye this past week in the land of the Loan Report as Andreas Christensen scored his third goal in Borussia Mönchengladbach colours whilst Dominic Solanke marked his return to action with a brace off the bench for Vitesse and Juan Cuadrado showed everyone what he’s capable of on the big European stage.
Christensen has, of course, been a mainstay in the Gladbach defence all season and has played more minutes than any Chelsea youngster out on loan this season. Approaching 3000 overall, he weighed in with his third goal this term on Friday night away to Schalke in an eventual 2-1 defeat. It showcases the hallmarks of his technical prowess, striding forward from his position in a back three to exchange passes, find himself in an attacking position, and sweep home confidently.
It is, at time, hard to remember that he doesn’t turn 20 for another month or so, and there certainly aren’t many players of his age playing so often and to such a high standard.
Solanke is some eighteen months his junior, having only turned eighteen back in September, but he too has been rather impressive for Vitesse this season. A nasty tackle from behind at home to Excelsior in late January sidelined him for six matches but, back at full health, he came off the bench away to Groningen on Sunday and did this:
The result means Vitesse remain in seventh place but remain firmly in the mix for European qualification at the end of the season. Lewis Baker played seventy minutes in his usual composed, probing fashion, whilst Izzy Brown made way for Solanke having put in a hard-working hour. Nathan saw a few minutes off the bench late on having avoided a suspension for a red card in a reserve team outing, and Danilo Pantic is highly unlikely to ever feature in yellow and black again.
Cuadrado, meanwhile, was at the heart of a stunning first-half display from Juventus away to Bayern Munich on Wednesday night, scoring to make it 2-0 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate following a quite sensational solo run by Alvaro Morata. Things didn’t end up going Juve’s way but Cuadrado looks a markedly different player from just about any time he showed up wearing Chelsea blue.
Norwich kept a second clean sheet in succession and picked up a vital three points with a 1-0 win at West Brom with Patrick Bamford well-involved again. After doing a useful job at home to Manchester City last weekend he retained his place in the starting line-up, operating as a deeper second striker with Dieumerci Mbokani leading the line, and he did well before being substituted fifteen minutes from time.
Nathan Aké also played 75 minutes as Watford lost 2-1 at home to Stoke, but Victor Moses wasn’t able to feature for West Ham as they drew away to his parent club Chelsea.
Michael Hector played two full matches in midfield for Reading this week but was unable to help them avoid defeat at Brighton or do better than draw against Cardiff, whilst Lucas Piazon missed both outings through illness. Tomas Kalas, back at centre-back for Middlesbrough, played well in a 1-0 win over Hull City adding another clean sheet to his resume, but John Swift was absent for Brentford against Blackburn having been dropped from the squad for a supposedly controversial post on social media.
Jordan Houghton’s home debut for Plymouth went much the same way as his bow last weekend at Accrington, with Argyle going down to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Luton. Houghton was substituted in the 73rd minute.
He might’ve only seen 25 minutes from the bench in a game his team won 5-2 but Jeremie Boga made it count in his first appearance in the home stadium of the club he supports on Friday night. Playing away to Marseille at the Stade Velodrome, he came within inches of scoring one of the goals of the season and stealing some of the spotlight back from high-profile teenage team-mate Ousmane Dembele.
Mario Pašalić remains injured and unavailable for selection for Monaco but he should be able to join up with the Croatian Under-21 squad for the upcoming internationals and be back to full fitness thereafter.
It’s now back to back defeats for Charly Musonda and Betis as they lost 1-0 at home to Málaga on Saturday despite dominating proceedings. Musonda, who was not called up to the Belgian national squad this week despite rumours of his potential inclusion, was lively early on before taking more of a back seat later on, probing from deep and trying one too many long balls into the box in desperation. Christian Atsu was a very late, time-wasting substitute for the visitors.
Stipe Perica and Nathaniel Chalobah were unused substitutes as (almost) usual this weekend.
Papy Djilobodji remains an ever-present at the heart of the Werder Bremen defence since joining but that could end after he was caught making a throat-cutting gesture towards an opponent during Bremen’s 1-1 draw at home to Mainz. Disciplinary action may follow.
Marco van Ginkel and PSV put in a heroic midweek performance to take Atlético Madrid to penalties in the Champions League after a 0-0 aggregate score; he scored his spot kick but so did just about everyone else before Luciano Narsingh missed and sent Philip Cocu’s side out of Europe. The sheer effort involved in getting to that point looked to have taken its toll on Sunday with a 2-0 home defeat to Ajax to allow their opponents to leapfrog them into top spot. Van Ginkel played another 90 minutes and is enjoying a much better time of things than he did at Stoke.
Todd Kane and NEC Nijmegen suffered a last-minute defeat at ADO Den Haag on Sunday, a blow to their hopes of European qualification. Kane got his customary ninety minutes and avoided a yellow card!
It was Cup Final weekend in Belgium so Victorien Angban, Cristian Cuevas, the injured Joao Rodriguez and everyone else had the weekend off.
Marko Marin played the duration of Trabzonspor’s defeat to Besiktas on Friday night whilst there was no Kenneth Omeruo for Kasimpasa against Bursaspor on Sunday; he’s picked up an injury that may rule him out of Nigerian duty this coming fortnight.
Defender Alex Davey joined Stabæk Fotball until late July this week to give him an opportunity to make up for something of a lost season and get valuable minutes in a summer league at a good standard. His debut came as a midfielder on Sunday night against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Molde and he put in a neat and tidy ninety minutes in a 2-1 defeat.
Jamal Blackman has also headed north for the spring, linking up with Allsvenskan newcomers Ostersunds, and although their season doesn’t begin until after Easter, he did make his first appearance in a friendly over the weekend.
Wallace is still injured but could be in line for a return to action as soon as later tonight.