The weekly loan review gets that little bit shorter again this week after Patrick van Aanholt returned to Chelsea after his spell at Newcastle, but there was still a lack of major news, by and large. Ryan Bertrand saw his FA Cup run with Reading come to a grinding second-half halt, whilst there were also defeats for Jack Cork and Matej Delač. Good news, however, came for Miroslav Stoch and Slobodan Rajkovic, as Twente returned to the top of the Eredivisie.
That came courtesy of a hard-fought Sunday afternoon win away to bottom side RKC Waalwijk, which put Steve McClaren’s boys two points clear of PSV, who lost 2-1 to NAC Breda on Saturday. Stoch played almost the full match, making way for Andre Rendla in stoppage time. For the first time since well before Christmas, Rajkovic also played the entireity of the game, and both players did well. Stoch showed good skill in a tight area to create a first-half chance for Kenneth Perez which was finished well by Bryan Ruiz, but the Costa Rican international was offside and it was disallowed. Rajkovic, who was playing because of an injury to Peter Wisgerhof, will be buoyed at being part of a clean sheet and will look to use the situation to regain a regular starting berth, just as others did when he was sidelined.
For Bertrand, Sunday’s FA Cup Quarter Final against Aston Villa was the tale of two halves. In the first 45 minutes, Reading were superb, and held a highly-deserved 2-0 lead, with one foot in the Wembley Semi Finals. The young left-back all but had Ashley Young in his pocket and was contributing well in attack. The second half was a different matter. Just two minutes after the restart Young escaped to score a goal which the ITV commentators attemped to pin on Bertrand. That much was harsh, Young was unmarked but had Ryan not made a challenge on Carlos Cuéllar (he was left marking two men) then the Spaniard would have scored. It was a goal which would see Villa add two more in the next ten minutes, the equaliser coming from Bertrand’s flank, and this one was a fault. Going up against Stewart Downing, he showed a naivety in not keeping the winger on his weaker right foot. Instead, he let him come back and drop a cross onto John Carew’s head for 2-2. The Norwegian swiftly added another and completed his hat-trick in stoppage time to seal a 4-2 win.
On Saturday, Jack Cork was handed his second start in Burnley colours for an ominous trip to Arsenal. With just one away point all season, the Clarets held little chance of coming away with anything and duly succumbed to a 3-1 defeat. Cork, however, came away with praise from Burnley fans, with the following praise:
“What a great little player this guy is, a breath of fresh air in the middle of the park.”
“Cork MotM yesterday, just shaded the excellent Clark Carlisle who was back to his best.”
“He stands out a mile in our team most of the time. Fantastic talent. I would love to sign him permanently, but he is destined for the top.”
“Cork is always available for a pass, rarely gives the ball away and more importantly he drags opposition players out of position and creates space for others.”
There was, however, no other Premier League action to speak of. Michael Mancienne was left unused on the subs bench as Wolves lost 1-0 to Manchester United, whilst Franco Di Santo had the weekend off with Blackburn due to have played a team who were otherwise occupied in the FA Cup. Scott Sinclair’s Wigan host Liverpool on Monday night on the pudding cake at the DW Stadium, but to expect him to feature in any form is ambitious to say the least.
That just leaves Delač. It was a big weekend for him and Inter Zapresic, as they hosted giants Hajduk Split. Chelsea were represented in the crowd by scout Sebastian Arnesen, who has been ‘assigned’ to look after the prodigious Croatian stopper, but it wasn’t one of his best outings. Hajduk cruised to a 3-0 victory, as you would expect for a strong team against a relegation battler, but more disappointingly, Delač had a rare poor outing, and may have wanted to do for the third goal. You can watch highlights of that game by clicking here.