It was a far more positive weekend of loanee action for Chelsea’s youngsters this weekend, with many returning from injury to make a notable impact. On the negative side, news breaks of an illness for Matej Delac which could keep him sidelined for a considerable period of time.
Reports out of Croatia suggest that Delac has a severe bout of Mononucleosis and he was unable to feature in Inter Zapresic’s 1-2 defeat on Saturday to Sesvete Zagreb. Whilst Mono can be a quick illness to overcome, it can also affect the immune system quite drastically and has kept some sports players from playing to their full effectiveness for long stretches of time (an example being the hockey player Phil Kessel, and fellow Croatian tennis player Mario Ancic). Everyone will naturally be hoping that Delac can overcome this illness and be restored to the Inter team as soon as possible.
Staying abroad to begin with, Miroslav Stoch was once again a key part of FC Twente’s good form, as they stayed top of the Eredivisie in beating VVV Venlo 2-1. Stoch was substituted to a great ovation in stoppage time, after a fine performance in which he hit the crossbar. Slobodan Rajkovic remains sidelined with a hamstring issue.
In Premier League action, Franco Di Santo made his first home start for Blackburn and was a key part of their surprise victory over Aston Villa. He was a pest for the opening goal, causing problems in the air allowing Chris Samba to slot home, and as Rovers looked to win the game late on, it was Di Santo’s overhead kick which hit Richard Dunne’s arms to win a dubious last minute penalty. David Dunn scored the spot kick to secure a vital win for Sam Allardyce’s boys, and Di Santo’s performance gave much promise that he can now kick on.
Scott Sinclair was precluded from being involved for Wigan as they hosted and beat Chelsea 3-1 at the DW Stadium, but Michael Mancienne did play for Wolves away to Sunderland live on Sky on Sunday. Mick McCarthy’s team were beaten 5-2 on his return to the Stadium of Light, and it was another mixed bag for the England Under-21 international. He had a good game at times, playing against two bigger, physical strikers, but was also found wanting on occasion, particularly Sunderland’s third. In attempting to close down Bent’s shot late on he deflected it past Wayne Hennessey for the fifth, but the scoreline failed to reflect the game and Wolves can consider themselves a little bit unlucky.
In the Championship, Reading’s poor form continued as Watford held a team including Ryan Bertrand to a 1-1 draw at the Madejski Stadium. Jack Cork started and completed 90 minutes for Coventry, whilst Patrick van Aanholt returned from injury as a half-time sub and made a key impact as the Sky Blues came back from two down to earn a point against Middlesbrough. Deep into stoppage time the Dutchman picked up a clearance on the edge of the area and took a shot. The ball skidded across the area and gave Leon Best a tap-in at the far post to earn a point. Cork looked better now that Chris Coleman has chosen to use him in the middle of a three-man midfield, and not wide right as he had started his spell at the Ricoh Arena.
In League One, Tom Taiwo and Jacob Mellis squared off against eachother at Brunton Park as Carlisle and Southampton shared a 1-1 draw. Mellis showed some good skill early on in beating three men before looking for a shot, but was closed down at the last by….Taiwo. Mellis came off with 15 minutes to go, Carlisle having taken the lead through Scott Dobie’s shot after Taiwo’s effort had been blocked, leaving the veteran with a tap-in. Ex-Chelsea goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley gifted the visitors a last-gasp point though, spilling a routine catch onto Radhi Jaidi’s head.
Finally, Liam Bridcutt was booked in Stockport’s desperately dull goalless draw away to Huddersfield, another good result for Gary Ablett’s men, and Nana Ofori-Twumasi came off the bench to no avail as England’s Under-20s lost their World Cup opener 1-0 to Uruguay. Michael Woods was an unused sub.