Thorgan Hazard and Gael Kakuta had impressive weeks as Chelsea's youngsters on loan continue to impress.
I apologize in advance for the lack of video highlights in this one, I've been dealing with some technical issues and was not able to get them embedded properly in this post. Hopefully I'll get those sorted out at some point this afternoon and I'll be able to get those in here for you, but for now I'll just make sure you have a summary of what was happening. With that in mind:
- Romelu Lukaku (West Bromwich Albion): Lukaku got 20 minutes in a 2-0 victory on Monday, and as usual, he looked pretty good while on the pitch. He's been great at getting himself involved in the game, making runs into dangerous positions. In that regard, he's been miles better than either Daniel Sturridge or Fernando Torres this season. I'm really starting to think that a January recall might be for the best, as he'd probably be our best striker right now.
- Yossi Benayoun (West Ham United): Yossi played 90 minute in a scoreless draw against City, and the woodwork was all that stopped him from winning the game for the surprising Hammers. That would have been nice...
- Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid): Courtois and Atletico dropped their first game of the season, losing 2-0 to Valencia. It was a relatively quiet day for Courtois, and there really wasn't much he could have done with either of the goals.
- Michael Essien (Real Madrid): Essien continues to play a prominent role for Real, starting twice this week. He was solid in 60 minutes of cup action mid-week before finding the back of the net on the weekend. He's been far better of late than I've seen from him for the last several years, although I'm still not sure he'd be an upgrade to either Ramires or Mikel in the starting lineup. He's certainly been good enough that he'd be nice depth though, something we're woefully short on in that position at the moment.
- Kevin De Bruyne (Werder Bremen): De Bruyne's all around game continues to improve as he gets more comfortable in Germany. He's completing a noticeably higher percentage of his passes lately, likely a byproduct of getting comfortable with his teammates. He's also looking much better when Werder are not in possession, something that was a bit of a concern over the summer.
- Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburger SV): Bruma was an unused substitute as HSV lost to Bayern Munich.
- Milan Lalkovic (Vitoria SC): Lalkovic played about 15 minutes as Vitoria were beaten by Benfica, 3-0. He was solid enough during his time on the pitch, although by the time he came into the game, the two teams were just seeing out the inevitable result.
- Matej Delac (Vitoria SC): Delac got to watch the match from the bench. Again.
- Tomas Kalas (Vitesse Arnhem): Kalas started on the weekend as Vitesse defeated Ajax 2-0 in Amsterdam, and he was excellent in that game. The result sees the Arnhem side jump to third in the table, and they are four points off the top at the moment.
- Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse Arnhem): PvA played wll of both of Vitesse's matches this week, the 4-0 cup victory mid-week and the victory over Ajax on the weekend. Like Kalas, PvA was exceptional this week.
- Gael Kakuta (Vitesse Arnhem): Kakuta had some issues at the start of the season, but he's been on a roll since making his debut. He had an assist to report in last week's report, and he had assists in each of his starts this week. He came off early in both starts, but he's been a real handful when he's been on the pitch. We're starting to see the prospect that was so highly touted...
- Kenneth Omeruo (ADO Den Haag): Omeruo had a quiet week, playing only the final 2 minutes of Den Haag's scoreless draw with Roda.
- Amin Affane (Roda JC): Unlike Omeruo, Affane started this Friday and played the full 90 minutes. I didn't get to see this one and he was barely mentioned in any match reports, so I can't really tell you much about his performance.
- Thorgan Hazard (Zulte-Waregem): Hazard 2.0 had himself a heck of a week, scoring in both of his club's wins as they moved atop the Belgian table. He's been fantastic all year, and he's really starting to make a name for himself in his homeland with the way he's been playing.
- Josh McEachran (Middlesbrough): McEachran was not involved mid-week as Boro's backups knocked Sunderland's starters out of the League Cup, but he played 90 minutes on the weekend as Middlesbrough joined Cardiff at the top of the Championship table. Josh had a gorgeous assist in that game, but he also made a mistake that led to the only goal they'd concede. He's been impressive though, and he's looked much better than Oriol Romeu this season.
- Sam Hutchinson (Nottingham Forest): Hutch is reportedly going to miss the next 4-6 weeks with his knee issues, and there's a good chance he returns to Chelsea because of that injury. It's an unfortunate setback, as he was playing relatively well before getting hurt.
- Ben Gordon (Birmingham City): Gordon was not involved this week at Birmingham, he's still recovering from injury.
- Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford): Chalobah returned from his red card suspension and was plugged right back into the Watford starting eleven. As usual, he was among the better players on the pitch, making an impact and helping control the center of the pitch in a 2-1 win. Watford are reasonably close to the promotion spots at the moment, and Chalobah has been a huge part of their success.
- Ulises Davila (CE Sabadell): Davila got a start and played 89 minutes against Sporting GIjon, and he looked fairly decent in the process. He created a few chances for himself and his teammates, but none of them found the back of the net in the scoreless draw.
- Archange Nkumu (Colchester): Nkumu did not feature in early FA Cup action, although he reportedly featured in an Essex Senior Cup match for the club. I can't tell you anything about how he did in his 45 minutes, but Colchester won that game 8-1.
- Sam Walker (Bristol Rovers): Walker was back in goal for the FA Cup on the weekend, but Brstol Rovers were eliminated by Sheffield Wednesday. Walker was reportedly solid in his showing, but will likely return to the bench as league play resumes.
- Jhon Pirez (Leganes): Last I heard, Pirez was hiding somewhere in the fire swamp.