It’s been a tough week for Chelsea’s loanees, with wins largely at a premium. Jack Cork once again joined the ranks of those at temporary homes, but was unable to make his debut, whilst elsewhere Miroslav Stoch’s FC Twente lost their long unbeaten league record.
The week began with FA Cup replay action last Tuesday, but it would transpire to be a horrendous night for both Michael Mancienne and Scott Sinclair. Mancienne started for Wolves in his now well-accustomed defensive midfield role in their replay away to Crystal Palace but watched in horror as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Selhurt Park. Danny Butterfield scored a hat-trick in the space of eight minutes to consign the visitors to more misery, but it was nothing on Wigan’s humiliation at the DW Stadium. The Latics were lucky to escape from their original tie away to Notts County with a draw and in the return match crashed to a 2-0 loss, with Scott Sinclair playing the entire game. The winger was quiet throughout and will want to quickly forget one of his poorest experiences to date, as he failed to make an impact against a team three divisions below his level.
There was some rare midweek Dutch action on the Wednesday, where Twente extended their unbeaten campaign to 21 league fixtures with a comfortable 2-0 defeat of Heracles. Stoch was his usual lively and tricky self but came away without making an impact on the score sheet, either as a contributor or creator, being denied late on by a good Martin Pieckenhagen save. Slobodan Rajkovic was once again missing with his latest injury woe, a heel problem. Steve McClaren’s team may have remained unbeaten up until this point, but were still only second in the table with PSV Eindhoven extending their own record without defeat.
Patrick van Aanholt’s home debut for Newcastle came on Friday, and it resulted in an emphatic 5-1 victory over promotion hopefuls Cardiff City. The Toon were three goals to the good in the first quarter of an hour and proved too strong for one of the division’s more powerful attacking units. It was a less eventful outing for the Dutchman than his debut a week earlier at Leicester but he put in a good performance and will be confident as part of a consistent, winning team.
For the weekend’s Premier League action, Sinclair returned to the Wigan bench and was once more unused – with new signing Victor Moses getting the nod instead – as Roberto Martinez’ side earned themselves a credible point away to Sunderland. It was a much more forgetful afternoon for Franco Di Santo and Blackburn as they were humiliated by Stoke City, losing 3-0 at the Brittania Stadium. Franco played an hour and will have likely been happy to come off such was the awful nature of their afternoon. Jack Cork was on the bench for Burnley as they beat West Ham at Turf Moor, but he was not able to make his Premier League debut on this occasion, remaining unused.
Reading, and Ryan Bertrand, picked up another big three points under new manager Brian McDermott in Sky’s live televised Saturday evening game away to Doncaster Rovers. A 2-1 win lifts the Royals to within a point of safety, and the left-back had a good game as part of a solid defensive unit, only blotting his copybook with a booking for wasting time late in the game.
Mancienne’s second action of the week came on Sunday in a local derby as Wolves visited Birmingham. He put in a good showing for the best part of the game in the holding midfield role and it looked for a long time as if they were set for their fourth away win of the season, but two late goals from Kevin Phillips saw the Blues take all three points. After a troubled spell out of the team, Michael has returned to consistent, full-time duty in a new role and is beginning to look good again, which is a good thing for him and for Chelsea.
Back in Holland, Stoch’s Twente finally fell to their first league loss of the campaign in one of their toughest fixtures on the schedule. A visit to Ajax saw a 3-0 win for the Amsterdamers and they thoroughly deserved the victory. Stoch was quiet and struggled against Ajax’s attacking full-backs, but had no support from any of his co-forwards and will want to forget this outing quickly. Rajkovic was fit enough to return to the bench but was unused. A return to the starting team shouldn’t be far away for the Serbian.
Matej Delac once again finishes off our round-up but with a fortnight still to go before the Croatian league resumes, any action is of the friendly nature. He was involved in two matches in the space of three days this week, firstly winning 2-1 over NK Rudeš, before a weekend defeat to FK Kapošvar.