One way or another, all roads eventually seem to lead to Vitesse as far as Chelsea’s loan army goes, and our four headliners this week each have connections with Chelsea’s Dutch affiliate. We begin, appropriately, in Arnhem.
It’s been one of the most positive weeks for the club in a long, long time. On Wednesday night they saw off Eredivisie leaders Feyenoord 2-0 in the Dutch Cup Quarter Finals to seal a Semi Final berth and a clash against AZ Alkmaar. With the other Semi pitting Sparta Rotterdam against second tier Cambuur, the opportunity to win what would be a first-ever major honour is closer than it has been in a generation.
Lewis Baker played well in that one whilst Nathan came off the bench to prove an effective influence playing in the number ten role for the first time. They both started Sunday’s league clash against AZ and, duly, both scored in a 2-1 win to move within three points of 4th place.
— Lammert Doddema (@lammertdoddema) January 29, 2017
Matt Miazga was a late substitute for Nathan to get himself some more minutes, whilst spotted in the stands and eventually confirmed as a new arrival at half time was Mukhtar Ali. The 19 year-old midfielder has been added to the squad to provide depth following the departure of Sheran Yeini, and is embarking upon his first loan away from Stamford Bridge.
Baker and Nathan took our season goals tally up to 82, but number 80 had been scored earlier on Saturday afternoon by a former Vitesse player in Izzy Brown. He weighed in with an assist as well as Huddersfield strolled past Rochdale 4-0 in the FA Cup, and has taken on a role of some responsibility in his first few weeks at the club, a very good sign after spending the first half of the campaign at Rotherham.
Kasey Palmer missed another game with his hamstring complaint but shouldn’t be out very much longer.
Loic Remy played the second half of Crystal Palace’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester City, whilst Tammy Abraham got half an hour as Bristol City were beaten away at Burnley in the same Fourth Round.
Fikayo Tomori made his Brighton debut away to Lincoln but had a game to forget as his own goal contributed to a 3-1 defeat and an unwanted ‘cupset ‘. His performance up until that point was solid and unremarkable, but he’ll want to put that particular memory behind him.
There was also cup heartbreak for Jamal Blackman and Wycombe, who led 2-0 and 3-2 away to Tottenham before suffering a stoppage-time 4-3 defeat. The big stopper made a number of crucial saves but made a small mistake to allow Dele Alli to equalise at 3-3, but Wycombe fans were more than proud of his and their whole team’s efforts on the day.
Lucas Piazon and Tomas Kalas both played their part in goals as Fulham beat Hull to take their place in the last sixteen too, although Kalas did concede a penalty. They had both featured in a 1-0 league defeat to Reading in midweek; Kalas getting another 90 minutes, Piazon 45 as a half-time substitute.
In League One, Swindon lost 1-0 to rivals Bristol Rovers in a fixture that saw Charlie Colkett return to the club he spent four months with earlier this term. He and Fankaty Dabo got 90 minutes with Islam Feruz getting 70, and Dabo was one of few Robins players who came away with much credit from a disappointing team performance.
Dion Conroy also made his debut for Swindon in the closing moments, having terminated his loan at Aldershot to sign a permanent two-and-a-half -year deal with the club. Best of luck to him in his post-Chelsea career.
Jay Dasilva was an unused substitute for ten-man Charlton as they won at Bolton Wanderers.
Doncaster Rovers went seven points clear at the top of League Two with Jordan Houghton getting another full match in their 3-0 win at Yeovil, whilst Nathan Baxter made it two clean sheets from two in helping Solihull Moors to a 2-0 National League win at home to Maidstone.
Juan Cuadrado played 83 minutes of Juventus’ 2-0 win at Sassuolo, whilst Mario Pašalić played the duration of Milan’s 2-1 defeat at Udinese. The pair had earlier faced off in Coppa Italia midweek action, Cuadrado getting 90 minutes and Pašalić half an hour in Juventus’ 2-1 win.
Jeremie Boga played half an hour as Granada were beaten 2-0 at Villarreal, and although it doesn’t seem especially likely now, he would be much better served by leaving one of La Liga’s most pitifully poor teams and finding a more suitable home for the remainder of 2016-17.
Victorien Angban hasn’t yet returned from African Cup of Nations duty.
Andreas Christensen and Borussia Mönchengladbach gave new manager Dieter Hecking his first win in just his second match in charge by staging a second half comeback away to Bayer Leverkusen. 2-0 down early on, die Föhlen turned things around thereafter and came away with a huge 3-2 victory.
Michael Hector came off the bench late in Eintracht Frankfurt’s win at Schalke and dutifully played his part in protecting the narrow lead with clearances and tackles aplenty.
There was something of an assist for Marco van Ginkel as PSV beat Heracles 2-1, but there was no Danilo Pantic again for Excelsior.
Bertrand Traore remains on international duty, with Burkina Faso reaching the Semi Finals of the African Cup of Nations.
Matej Delač and Mouscron lost 1-0 away to Zulte Waregem in midweek before picking up an impressive 3-0 win over Eupen, but they remain bottom of the league. Cristian Cuevas played fifteen minutes for Sint Truiden against Mechelen and 73 against Oostende in an important pair of victories to lift his team up to mid-table.
Kenneth Omeruo played 79 minutes as Alanyaspor lost 2-1 away to Antalyaspor.