The return from international football to the domestic calendar meant the majority of Chelsea’s loanees were back in action on Friday and Saturday. However, some poor results, performances, and struggles after injury resulted in few positives to report upon.
We’ll start abroad in Holland, where after returning to fitness to see Slovakia edge ever closer to the World Cup Finals, Miroslav Stoch was restored to the FC Twente lineup for their clash with FC Utrecht. Slobodan Rajkovic was missing again, having made a premature comeback from a hamstring problem, but Stoch showed no signs of the knee issue which caused him to miss their last fixture. He won a second half penalty with the game level at 2-2, flying into the area before being felled by Michael Silberbauer, but Kenneth Perez’ spot kick was saved by Michel Vorm, who made his international debut in midweek. It all ended well though, as three minutes into stoppage time Bryan Ruiz smashed in a winner for Steve McClaren’s boys.
In Premier League action, Michael Mancienne lined up as usual in the centre of the Wolves defence for their trip to Blackburn, where Franco Di Santo was fit enough to resume his place on the bench, but didn’t get onto the pitch. If he had have seen time, he might have had some success, as Wolves crashed 3-1 with Mancienne unfortunately at the heart of some troubled defending. The opening goal saw him react late to an admittedly horrendous blind backheel from Karl Henry, which sold him down the river, and allowed El-Hadji Diouf to pounce. It didn’t get much better, as Gael Givet made it 2-0 with Mancienne left marking nobody, coincidentally as Givet was marked by nobody, and David Dunn made it three after Jason Roberts exploited an offside trap which Mancienne appeared to have ruined by playing him on. It wasn’t a day where he covered himself in glory, but it needs to be one he bounces back positively from, in much the way he did in reacting positively to his struggles against Emmanuel Adebayor a few weeks ago.
Wigan Athletic found an upturn in form to beat West Ham 1-0 through a Hugo Rodallega goal, but Scott Sinclair was limited to scraps, coming on in stoppage time, therefore having no impact on proceedings. West Ham’s young team did see ex-Chelsea youngster Frank Nouble come on for the last four minutes himself.
It hardly got much better in the Championship. Ryan Bertrand continued at left-back for Reading (opposite their new permanent signing Shaun Cummings at right-back) but the Royals continued to fall below par, drawing 0-0 at home to Doncaster, although Ryan’s performance was apparently one of the better on the day. Up in Coventry, Patrick van Aanholt was sidelined with a groin strain which will keep him out for around a month, but Jack Cork played 78 minutes in midfield as the Sky Blues drew 1-1 with Bristol City.
League One’s action started again on Friday night, with another Southend home game, but another game in which Lee Sawyer watched on from the bench without getting on as the Shrimpers drew 0-0 with Leeds. Despite Sawyer’s standing amongst most fans and his general impressive performances, his injury has allowed manager Steve Tilson to keep him sidelined, which is concerning for his short-term future. Tom Taiwo was on the Carlisle bench after an ankle knock and came on late in the game but could do nothing to avoid their surprising 0-2 defeat to Brighton.
Liam Bridcutt returned to Huish Park, where he had a successful loan spell with Yeovil, on the opposition’s side with Stockport, and looked good in a 2-2 draw. Finally, Jacob Mellis was a substitute for Southampton after a busy week and got twelve minutes in a 1-1 draw away to table-topping Charlton Athletic.
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