For another week at least, the loan round-up will be centred around Miroslav Stoch. The Slovakian international winger scored both goals in FC Twente’s 2-1 Europa League win against Sheriff Tiraspol and followed it up on Sunday by playing in the Eredivisie leaders’ 1-0 victory over Ajax, which keeps them both top, and unbeaten.
Having scored away to Roda the weekend before, Stoch came into the midweek tie with great confidence, and scored the game’s opening goal after just eight minutes, slamming into the bottom corner after a corner melée saw the ball fall his way. Sheriff levelled midway through the second half and looked set to take a surprise point, but in the final minute Miro picked the ball up wide on the left, jinked inside and from the edge of the area lashed a shot which went through the goalkeeper and intot the back of the net. Booked for celebrating, he likely won’t have cared as his week got even better, taking his tally to six goals. He came back down somewhat on Sunday against Ajax, with a less exhilarating performance, and whilst he wasn’t great, he put in a good shift and is an integral part of the Dutch leaders’ team so far.
Slobodan Rajkovic will be when he recovers from hernia surgery, which continues to sideline him.
Elsewhere, and all three of the club’s Premier League loanees saw action, the first time that has happened in a few weeks. Franco Di Santo started again for Blackburn as they won 3-1 against Portsmouth and played 84 minutes. He spent the first half ploughing a lone furrow in attack, but when joined by Jason Roberts the team took off and scored three second half goals to take the win. With the suspension of Chelsea’s transfer embargo, there is now a chance he remains at Ewood Park longer than the planned January 1st return date, and Rovers fans are hopeful of such a development. Over in Wigan, Scott Sinclair returned to the bench for the visit of Fulham and got just twelve minutes of action in what continues to be another disappointing loan spell for the winger, but Michael Mancienne did make his return from a virus for Wolves in their 1-4 defeat at home to Arsenal. He played the last ten minutes with the hosts already four behind, but was able to celebrate Jody Craddock’s consolation effort.
In the Championship, Coventry duo Patrick van Aanholt and Jack Cork will both be disappointed with their outings in the Sky Blues’ Friday night defeat at the hands of Derby County. Both were withdrawn in the second half of the 2-1 reverse but such was the performance neither of them were likely to have come out of the game with any credit. I’ll refrain from providing this week’s GMK Online ratings as the author was so impassioned in defeat that anger took over constructive thought, which was by all accounts understandable. It wasn’t too much better for Reading, who are in the middle of a club record 19 game winless run at home which continued on Saturday in a 1-1 draw with fellow strugglers Ipswich. Ryan Bertrand played the 90 minutes again and looked good as the Royals do continue to play better, but the results aren’t coming.
There was no League One action this weekend as it was FA Cup First Round time, which meant Jacob Mellis was inactive for Southampton at the request of Chelsea (so as to not cup-tie him). There was no such restriction for Tom Taiwo for Carlisle, who will be disappointed at dropping a 2-0 lead at home to Morecambe to a 2-2 draw and a replay next week. Tom was taken off with twenty minutes to go, just after Morecambe had scored their first, suffering from a nasty cut to the leg which may threaten to curtail the closing weeks of his loan spell. There were no such problems for Liam Bridcutt and Stockport, who beat lowly Tooting & Mitcham FC 5-0 at Edgeley Park. He went close to scoring from long range, forcing a fantastic save from the goalkeeper, and went off with twelve minutes left with a job well done.
Finally, news on Matej Delac, who is close to recovering from glandular fever and is set return next week for the final two games before the winter break, where he will then come to England to train with Chelsea throughout November and December.