It’s been a mixed bag as ever with Chelsea’s loanees this weekend. On the plus side, Miroslav Stoch returned to goalscoring form for FC Twente and Tom Taiwo continued to cement himself as a firm favourite at Carlisle, but at the other end of the scale Lee Sawyer’s problems at Southend came to a head whilst Michael Mancienne missed another Wolves fixture.
We’ll start, as we should, with Stoch. Having grabbed his first club goals a few weeks ago to Heerenveen his form cooled a little, but on Sunday he was back to his very best with the first in a 4-0 rout of Groningen which keeps Steve McClaren’s boys atop the Eredivisie. It took but five minutes for the Slovakian international to find the back of the net for the third time this season, and what a stunning strike it was. Picking the ball up some thirty yards from goal, he cut inside his man and unleashed an unstoppable effort from 25 yards which rocketed past Brian van Loo. He was then involved in the second 15 minutes later, although claiming an assist for passing to Dwight Tiendalli before the Dutchman smashed in an equally unstoppable strike might be pushing his luck a bit. Van Loo was later dismissed as Blaise Nkufo and Bryan Ruiz secured the rout, whilst Stoch was replaced after 71 highly impressive minutes. You can see his goal here, but Slobodan Rajkovic was once again missing with his hernia injury.
On English shores, there was no Premier League action to note. Scott Sinclair was an unused sub for Wigan’s 3-1 win at Burnley, whilst Franco Di Santo was prevented from playing for Blackburn as they lost 5-0 at Chelsea due to league loan regulations. Michael Mancienne sat out his second straight game with a virus, games in which Wolves have picked up impressive draws against Everton and Aston Villa – draws built on solid, mistake-free defending, which was less evident with Mancienne in the line-up.
In the Championship, Jack Cork and Patrick van Aanholt both played in midfield as Coventry held West Brom to a goalless draw at the Ricoh Arena. It’s an impressive result for the Sky Blues given the quality of opposition and the lack of firepower available to Chris Coleman, but the game was largely unremarkable. Van Aanholt’s technical ability allowed Coleman to push him into midfield due to injuries, with greater depth available in defence. Both players fared well in the post-match GMK Online ratings. Ryan Bertrand is likely to return to the squad for Reading’s Monday night fixture with Leicester after a head injury picked up against Middlesbrough but may well be a sub as a precaution. If he does feature, this report will be updated to include his performance.
In League One, as previously reported, Lee Sawyer’s time at Southend is likely to come to an end in the near future after he was left out of their squad for the trip to Carlisle for a second (at least) breach of club discipline. It meant the Shrimpers were even more short-staffed than usual and succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against Tom Taiwo and company. Taiwo’s impressive and consistent outings have led to many Carlisle fans labelling him as their player of the season so far and even if he may never make it at Chelsea, he’s going a long way to securing himself a professional football career. Liam Bridcutt and Stockport lost 2-0 at Brentford, with Bridcutt just unable to make a telling challenge on Myles Weston for the game’s deciding second goal, whilst Jacob Mellis was once again rested on the bench for Southampton’s fifth straight win, beating MK Dons 3-1.
Finally, as always, we catch up on Matej Delac, although there is little to mention as he is still out with glandular fever. Inter Zapresic lost 5-2 at Slaven Belupo in his absence.
Keep your eye on CFCnet this week for a series of articles on some of this season’s key youth and reserve performers, as the free week for both the Under-18s and Reserves allows some time to reflect on the first three months of the campaign.