The loanee ranks increased one in the last seven days as Ben Gordon became the club’s third left back to find a temporary home this season, joining Tranmere Rovers on a one month deal. He made his senior debut this week, whilst Miroslav Stoch missed two consecutive matches for the first time all season after suffering a groin injury.
The injury caused enough concern to refer the Slovakian youngster to have scans, meaning he missed the midweek Dutch Cup exit to Feyenoord and sat out again on Saturday night when a Bryan Ruiz hat-trick kept FC Twente on course for the title in beating Sparta Rotterdam. Slobodan Rajkovic played the last twenty minutes against Sparta, having missed out on involvement midweek. As for Stoch’s return; more will be known when the scan results are in.
For Gordon, he went straight into Tranmere’s team on Saturday for their trip to Brighton and wore the number 30 shirt. Brighton cantered to a 3-0 victory in which Ben was booked for unsporting behaviour, and he was unlucky not to have been able to head the cross from which Andrew Crofts scored clear, finding himself an inch too short. Unfortunately, he was culpable for the third in completely fluffing his kick and his performance didn’t go down particularly well with Rovers supporters, but it was his first senior outing and he will want to improve on that.
On a more positive note, the week started with a superb win for Michael Mancienne and Wolves, displaying a brilliant counter-attacking game in their 3-1 victory at West Ham. Mancienne slotted into the holding role once again and was excellent in mopping up play and distributing the ball. He impressed enough for Sky to give him the Man of the Match award on their website:
Man of the Match: Michael Mancienne. Centre-half was pressed into duty in a holding midfield role and he didn’t disappoint. The Chelsea loan star won everything, mopping up any danger with a succession of vital headers and tackles.
In the same position Saturday against impressive Everton, he was once again impressive in keeping a clean sheet as part of their goalless draw. Replaced with twenty minutes to go to keep a tired team fresh, he and the club will take great confidence from a superb week.
Wednesday night saw Franco Di Santo restricted again to watching duty as an unused sub, as Blackburn beat Birmingham 2-1 at Ewood Park. With Sam Allardyce’s team in decent form right now he appears reluctant to make big changes, and indeed, the Argentinian started on the bench for Sunday’s big local derby away to Burnley, the only team he has scored against this season. He got fifteen minutes as a late sub but was unable to contribute much.
Jack Cork remained an unused substitute on the opposing bench, which is once more disappointing after being their best player when recently selected. With Brian Laws’ side battling against relegation and suffering key defeats against teams in and around them of late, it almost defies belief that one of their few impressive players since the end of January hasn’t been able to get into the side. It appears to be a view held by a number of Clarets supporters, and one would hope that things change before the end of the season.
Scott Sinclair, meanwhile, is once more in Monday night ‘action’, but the chances of seeing him play away to Manchester City are slim.
For Ryan Bertrand, the season continues to get better and better. A midweek 2-1 victory over Leicester was followed by Saturday’s draw with West Brom, in which the left back was booked, but his performances have been consistenly impressive as the team’s form has turned around. He was a fingertip save from Chris Weale away from adding his second goal of the season in midweek and was arguably the best player on the pitch against the Baggies, and with next season a big year for him at Chelsea, he has picked a good time to step his game up.
Matej Delač once again finishes off the round-up, and kept another clean sheet as his form and fitness returns, having spent the best part of five months on the sidelines away from competitive action. Inter picked up a 4-0 win away to NK Bistra in a friendly fixture.