For the second week in a row, Jack Cork is the main focus of the loan round-up. After making his Premier League debut away to Fulham, he made his first start this Sunday away to Aston Villa, and whilst Burnley toiled in a 5-2 defeat, the England Under-21 international was the Clarets’ best player and had a hand in both of their goals. Elsewhere, there’s interesting contract news for Miroslav Stoch.
Cork was named in Brian Laws’ starting team for the first time as Burnley looked to add to their solitary point away from home this season. They started in positive form and took an early lead through top scorer Steven Fletcher. Cork picked up the ball on the right and showed a deftness of touch and awareness to slip a perfect ball inside for David Nugent. The Portsmouth loanee squared across the area and Fletcher tucked it away at the far post. Villa would go on to overwhelm their visitors with a tide of attacking flow and scored five unanswered before Martin Paterson’s late consolation, which was made by Cork. He broke up play on the halfway line before playing a quick give-and-go with Chris Eagles, who released him down the left. Despite being on his weaker foot he spun an undefendable pass across the face of goal for Paterson to finish in similar fashion to Fletcher.
The Carshalton-born youngster was widely acclaimed post-match to have been the most impressive player in visiting colours and certainly did his chances of a regular place no harm at all. He played in a more advanced role than his usual anchorman position but showed a willingness to get stuck in, fine positional sense and a sense of urgency lacked elsewhere in the team. It’s been a very positive start for him in the top division.
Unfortunately, the rest of the top flight news isn’t as good. With Michael Mancienne out of action this weekend due to loan regulations as Chelsea visited his Wolverhampton Wanderers, it was left up to Franco Di Santo and Scott Sinclair to provide the headlines. Predictably, neither did. Sinclair had the chance first in midweek but remained on the bench as Wigan and Bolton played out arguably the most forgettable game in Premier League history to a goalless draw. To the surprise of many, he got fifteen minutes from the bench on Sunday as Tottenham visited but did nothing. Spurs picked up two late goals to seal a 3-0 win at the DW Stadium. Earlier in Lancashire, Di Santo was also unused as Blackburn beat Bolton at Ewood Park, and his cause will not have been helped by the improving form of Jason Roberts and Nikola Kalinic.
There was a busy midweek of Championship action, which, of course, meant more playing time for the two young left-backs in the division. Patrick van Aanholt and Newcastle returned to winning ways after a brief hiccup with a 4-1 win over Coventry, with whom he spent the first half of the campaign. He had a good game and would have had his first assist in black and white late on were it not for Andy Carroll’s profligacy. At the other end of the country, Reading pieced together an impressive 3-1 victory away to Crystal Palace, to continue what has been an impressive season away from home. Ryan Bertrand played the full game as per usual and had a hand in Jimmy Kebe’s opening goal, playing the releasing pass for Brynjar Gunnarson to deliver into the area.
The duo were back in action at the weekend, but this time had different fortunes. Van Aanholt played in what was likely his final game at St. James’ Park (with his last scheduled game to be away at Watford) as Newcastle extended their unbeaten home record with a 3-0 win over Preston. The Dutchman struggled at times to track the movement of Jon Parkin but was solid throughout and has done enough to warrant the club investigating the possibility of extending his deal. Chelsea will be reluctant, not only because of Ashley Cole’s long-term injury, but because Patrick will need to spend a certain amount of time at Chelsea to be eligible for next season’s Champions League squad.
For Bertrand, there is no such quandary, as he is tied to the Royals for the season, but they were unable to make it two wins in a week as Blackpool proved too much and won 2-0. It wasn’t one of his most impressive appearances of the campaign, and he struggled to work well with the lacklustre Jobi McAnuff, who came in for some stick from the Reading fans, so to say his cause was not helped by his teammates would be understated somewhat.
Overseas, Miroslav Stoch has played twice this past seven days, but the most interesting news comes courtesy of his official website this weekend. His agent, Milan Lednicky, has revealed that Chelsea have offered him a new long-term contract after he cemented his place as one of the most promising youngsters in the Eredivisie. The offer has not yet been accepted, but Stoch elaborates on the situation:
“I am pleased that Chelsea still show interest in me. Who wouldn’t want to play for one of the biggest teams in the world? I will certainly discuss the offer with my management and advisors. My absolute priority is playing regularly.”
Whilst he considers the offer, his Twente side have picked up two 1-0 victories this week which stand them in good stead for an assault on both the Eredivisie and the Europa League. On Thursday night, Steve McClaren’s boys took a first leg victory over Werder Bremen in Eschede which will do their chances of progressing a world of good. For Miro, it was a quieter night than usual, and he was subbed with five minutes left in the game. On Sunday, Twente pulled to within a point of leaders PSV, taking advantage of their slip-up at home to Sparta Rotterdam by beating Willem II by a single goal. It came courtesy of Peter Wisgerhof in the second half. Stoch continued his slow 2010 form, but remains a key part of the team, having started every game this season. More positively, after being a substitute on Thursday night, Slobodan Rajkovic returned to the starting line-up against Willem II, replacing the suspended Douglas and keeping a clean sheet as he was replaced in stoppage time by Nicky Kuipers.
Finally, in a week where Matej Delač was put on standby for the senior Croatian national team squad for their friendly against Belgium, his Inter Zapresic side were due to play in their final friendly against NK Rovinj, but information is, as of time of writing, unavailable. League action resumes next Saturday with an away game against Cibalia.