A look in on the Chelsea youngsters on loan for the week ending February 3, 2013
Another week is in the books, and with the transfer window now closed, we have a pretty good idea of who we'll be focusing on in the loan roundups for the remainder of the season. The emergency window opens again in just a few days, but Chelsea really don't have too many players that would reasonably be expected to move now that they've released guys like Rohan Ince, Conor Clifford, and Ben Gordon. Here's what the kids (and Essien) did this past week:
- Romelu Lukaku (West Bromwich Albion): There seems to be little doubt that Lukaku is now the first choice starter at West Brom, as he got another pair of starts this week. He had to come off early against Tottenham due toe a teammate's bout with idiocy, but he generally showed the improvement we've been looking for in his movement and his holdup play in fixtures against Everton and Spurs. I know I keep saying this, but he's as good as either striker that Chelsea are giving minutes to right now (and certainly better than one of them), and should definitely be part of the first team next season.
- Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid): As usual, Courtois had himself a very good week for Atletico. He finally allowed a goal at home midweek, as Sevilla found the back of the net from the penalty spot. That ended their streak of ten consecutive clean sheets at home, although Thibaut got a new on started on the weekend when he kept Betis from finding the back of the net. Petr Cech has been in the discussion for the best keeper on the planet over the past season and a half, and he's quickly becoming the second best keeper on Chelsea's books.
- Michael Essien (Real Madrid): Essien got another start at fullback for Real Madrid against Barcelona, and was neither overly impressive or noticeably poor. He went unused on the weekend as Real lost (again) to Granada.
- Lucas Piazon (Malaga): Piazon went unused over the weekend, as Julio Baptista made his return after a year and a half out with various injuries.
- Kevin De Bruyne (Werder Bremen): After featuring on the left wing and at center forward thus far this spring (can I call it spring yet?), KDB finally moved back into a more central role behind the striker as Werder faced Hannover. The game was fairly poorly played on the whole, and while De Bruyne wasn't bad by any stretch, he certainly wasn't excellent either.
- Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburger SV): Bruma continued to start for HSV, in place of the injured Michael Mancienne. Bruma was decent without being overly impressive, as there were things he was generally doing very well while still showing some signs that he's not been playing in the center of the defense very often.
- Tomas Kalas (Vitesse Arnhem): Kalas started both Vitesse fixtures this week, and was relatively poor in each of them. He suffered a similar dip in form just after the winter break ended last season, and bounced back nicely from that one. Hopefully he gets back to his best quickly this time as well.
- Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse Arnhem): PvA played both Vitesse matches this week, and wasn't overly good in the first one. He struggled to contain the Ajax attack midweek, and committed a foul in the box that was rightly given as a penalty. He was better on the weekend, although he struggled to contribute to the attack. The entire club just looks out of sync without WIlfried Bony leading the attack, so his early return from the cup of nations will be a nice treat.
- Gael Kakuta (Vitesse Arnhem): Kakuta hasn't been dominating games the way he was before the break, although with Bony in Africa, teams have been marking him heavily. He's still showing much better decision making though, and is almost certainly ready for a step up from the level of competition he's seeing this year.
- Kenneth Omeruo (ADO Den Haag): He wasn't playing for Den Haag, he was off impressing at the CAN instead.I really hope most of you have been taking advantage of the opportunity to see him play, as he's been excellent at center back for his national team.
- Amin Affane (Roda JC): Affane continues to miss out on the lineups for Roda JC. I have to assume he's injured, as they really don't have 18 players that would justify him not even making the bench. I haven't heard anything one way or the other.
- Thorgan Hazard (Zulte-Waregem): Hazard was absolutely brilliant as Zulte continued to impress over the weekend. He put in a little over 80 minutes in the 2-1 victory that now has his club sitting comfortably in second place. I thought it was his best game of the season, and I know several of the Belgian football guys I trust were also more than a little impressed.
- Wallace (Fluminense): These games were not this past week, but Wallace spent a bit of time last month playing with the Brazil U20 team. The performance from that entire squad was pretty poor, and unfortunately Wallace was not an exception. They crashed out in the group stage, and will not be participating in the FIFA U20 World Cup this summer. Feel free to overreact accordingly...
- Josh McEachran (Middlesbrough): McEachran has been struggling with fitness of late, and started this weekend's contest on the bench because of that. To nobody's surprise, Boro didn't get markedly better with McEachran out of the lineup, and he came on at halftime in the 4-0 drubbing they took. Josh didn't look all that good, but nobody in that game really did.
- Sam Hutchinson (Nottingham Forest): As has become the norm, Hutch was again out of action due to an injury he's been dealing with for a few months. The good news in that regard is that he's managed to miss out on the entire Alex McLeish era. Hopefully he'll be fit enough to help Nottingham's third manager of the year at some point.
- Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford): I'm starting to run out of good things to say about Chalobah, who was named the FA's youth player of the year this past week. Zola decided to start Chalobah on the bench midweek, and Watford looked pretty awful during that loss. He did come on late, but didn't really have too much involvement in the 15 minutes or so he was on the pitch. He started on the weekend though, and Watford were noticeably better while Nathaniel continued to show he's one of the best prospects in all of England.
- Todd Kane (Blackburn Rovers): Kane didn't really have a chance to continue impressing Blackburn fans, as he started this weekend's game on the bench. He came on in stoppage time, but wasn't on the pitch long enough to make an impression.
- Ulises Davila (CE Sabadell): Davila had an excellent game as his side defeated Barca B on the weekend. Sabadell quit with the idea of using him at center forward, instead allowing him to play a wider role that would see the ball at his feet more often. He looked excellent, and is clearly better suited to a supporting role than a leading one.
- Patrick Bamford (MK Dons): Bamford returned to MK Dons for the remainder of the season, but he was still not quite fit enough to feature for the club. He appears to be very close though, so hopefully next week we'll be seeing him return to action.
- Sam Walker (Colchester United): Wlaker was excellent as Colchester wn their second straight game, and he's likely secured the starting keeper job for the remainder of the season with his performances thus far.
- Billy Clifford (Colchester United): Clifford was also fairly good for Colchester, playing in a #10 role as they continue to show signs of life. It's good to see Clifford and Walker playing well, as both were likely in jeopardy of joining Conor Clifford, Ben Gordon, and the other released youngsters had they struggled with this assignment.
Jhon Pirez (Leganes): In what was certainly the most notable moment of the weekend, Jhon Pirez started a football match. Not only did he start, but by most accounts he was pretty good. That's never really been a concern for the Uruguayan, his lack of fitness has always been the major issue with his development. Hopefully he can finally catch a break and get a run of games, as he's a good enough player that he should be able to make a career out of the game.