This weekend’s loan round-up sees the youth team report incorporated as they played away to Crystal Palace on Saturday. Coming just 36 hours after the FA Youth Cup victory against Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge, a rotated squad saw full debuts for three schoolboy players. Elsewhere, Patrick van Aanholt made his debut for a second team this season, having joined Newcastle United on loan.
Starting with the Under-18s, Dermot Drummy made eight changes to his team for Saturday’s trip to Palace, and amongst the starting team were John Swift, Nathaniel Chalobah and Todd Kane. Chalobah, an England Under-17 international regular at the heart of defence, has already made a debut from the bench this season, whilst full-back Kane has been an unused substitute on occasion, but Swift was making his first appearance of any kind, starting in midfield. Only Marko Mitrovic, Kaby and Aziz Deen-Conteh retained their starting places, and it was perhaps the unfamiliar look of the team which contributed to the hosts taking an early lead. Anton Rodgers equalised close to half-time with a stunning effort from long range, but despite both Mitrovic and Bobby Devyne striking the woodwork in the late stages, the score was to finish level. In hindsight, taking a point from the only team to win at Cobham this season, and a team who currently sit second behind Arsenal in the table, is quite an accomplishment for a team fielding players who haven’t logged competitive minutes since November. A positive outing from a very young team.
Team: Haxhia, Sampayo, Chalobah, Deen-Conteh, Kane, Saville, Kaby, Swift, Rodgers, Devyne, Mitrovic
Goals: Rodgers ’38
Moving onto loan news, and we’ll start down in the Championship with van Aanholt, who joined league leaders Newcastle United on Friday on a month’s loan. Drafted in by Chris Hughton as injury cover for Jose Enrique, Patrick was thrown straight into action for Saturday’s live televised trip to Leicester City. The match finished goalless but the Dutch Under-19 international was involved in some of the key talking points. After a nervous start he made a last-ditch block to deny Matt Fryatt an opening goal, before going down the other end and testing the goalkeeper with a fierce shot from just outside the area. He continued to get forward well and put in some tantalising crosses, but was unable to help find a goal. Whether he remains at St. James’ Park for longer than the planned month remains to be seen, with Chelsea keen to keep him at the club so as to gain eligibility for the Champions League next season, but he made a good first impression.
Premier League action takes us back to last midweek, where Tuesday night saw Michael Mancienne start in midfield for Wolves as they hosted Liverpool. Mick McCarthy’s boys earned a well-fought point in the 0-0 draw, with Mancienne impressing in what was often a direct fight with Steven Gerrard. He displayed good defensive ability, and was calm and effective with the ball at his feet. He adopted the same role again on Saturday as they picked up another point in a 2-2 draw at Hull, with Matt Jarvis scoring a second half equaliser. Comments from McCarthy this week have indicated that Michael will continue to play in this role, and in extending his versatility, the player himself believes he is doing enough to earn a squad place at Stamford Bridge next season:
“I am definitely going back to Chelsea. I want to try and fight for my place. I think I have a good chance of getting (in the team). I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing, and keep playing well, and then I think I’ll give myself a bigger opportunity of playing in that team.”
“I am enjoying playing week in and week out. That is what I need to better myself and improve as a footballer because I can’t sit on the bench and improve. I think I made the right decision (coming to Wolves). Coming to Wolves has improved me as a player. I am playing regular football in the best league in the world.”
Franco Di Santo, meanwhile, started on the bench for Blackburn’s meeting with Wigan on Wednesday night, and got just thirteen minutes of their 2-1 win, replacing El-Hadji Diouf in the latter stages. He didn’t even get onto the pitch at the weekend in a dull and uninspiring 0-0 draw away to West Ham (who started Frank Nouble in attack once again), with Sam Allardyce preferring to use Jason Roberts and David Hoilett over him from the extras on the sidelines. The club this week sold Benni McCarthy, which shows a level of confidence in Franco’s abilities, but his relegation from the starting team in recent weeks is concerning.
Whilst Di Santo was making a brief late appearance against Wigan, Scott Sinclair was an afterthough again, playing just four minutes as a late sub. He got the luxury of ten as Roberto Martinez’s side fell to a 1-0 home defeat by Everton at the weekend, but the story stays the same for Scott. With the club seemingly on the verge of signing Victor Moses from Crystal Palace, you would imagine his opportunities will become even more limited, which would essentially mean he doesn’t get any playing time at all. With just four starts and thirteen appearances from the bench – almost all with limited time – he hasn’t been given the chance he thought he would get, and whilst some of that might be down to his lack of progression, there must come a time where he is given the playing time to show something, rather than be expected to contribute in dead time.
Ryan Bertrand and Reading have a new permanent manager, with the Royals giving the job to Brian McDermott on a permanent basis after his extraordinary feats in the FA Cup throughout January. He was still caretaker as they fell to an insipid 3-0 loss at Sheffield United in midweek, but a weekend 1-0 victory at home to Barnsley was a welcome result for the newly-crowned permanent boss. Ryan played the entire game in both outings and remains Chelsea’s most consistent domestic loan performer, turning in a great performance (including a goalline clearance) at the weekend to make up for a disappointing showing in Sheffield.
Miroslav Stoch is another who has been in action twice this past week, as FC Twente tied PSV at the top of the Eredivisie. His first appointment was a midweek cup outing which ended in a comprehensive 4-0 win away to Sparta Rotterdam. Stoch provided an early assist for Bryan Ruiz, but his goal was ruled out. Efforts from Kenneth Perez and Ruiz sandwiched a brace from Blaise N’Kufo to seal their place in the next round, with Slobodan Rajkovic watching from the sidelines. He was missing again for Sunday’s 2-0 home win over Roda with a heel injury, but Stoch was back to his lively self, picking up his fourth assist of the season in setting up Ruiz for the second goal. You can watch here as he beats two men down the right before putting over a cross for the Costa Rican to turn past the goalkeeper.
To finish off, as ever, we go to Croatia and keep an eye on Matej Delac. With three weeks left until the Croatian league resumes, friendly matches are the mot du jour right now, with the latest being a 3-1 home loss for Inter against NK Pomorac.