Middlesbrough played two games last week, winning both while scoring five and keeping two clean sheets. Aitor Karanka's men have now won three in a row and find themselves fifth in the Championship with the joint-third best defensive record in the division (7 goals conceded in 8). Needless to say, Kenneth Omeruo played all 180 minutes and has formed a rather formidable partnership with 23-year-old ex-Liverpool prospect Daniel Ayala.
The lack of goals conceded have also kept Jamal Blackman consigned strictly to backup goalkeeper duties.
Meanwhile, at the sharp end, Patrick Bamford got his first start over the weekend after making a late substitute appearance midweek and repaid the faith by scoring Boro's third in a 4-0 mauling of Brentford. Bamfordinho was clearly pleased to open his goalscoring account for the season and is already dropping hints of wanting to extend his loan past January.
Things are slightly less rosy in the low countries, as Vitesse managed just a draw at home against Heerenveen. Jake will have further details on the week at Chelsea B shortly, but of the Chelsea contingent, only Wallace got a start. Bertrand Traoré did make his return from injury as a second half substitute. Josh McEachran... well, yeah. Riding that pine like a pro.
At Unincorporated Cobham East, Stipe Perica played the full 90 as NAC Breda succumbed to a stoppage time winner against local rivals Willem II. Incidentally, NAC's only goal was scored by Nemanja Matic's younger brother, Uroš. Ex-Chelsea boys Ben Sahar and Isak Ssewankambo were also involved on either side of the heated affair, which eventually devolved into crowd trouble and rioting. Can't we all just get along?
Wulfert Cornelius Marco van Ginkel remained on the bench as Milan lost 1-0 at home to defending champions Juventus.
Fernando Torres was called upon to try to score a goal and rescue a point for the Rossoneri with about a quarter hour to go, with entirely unsurprising results. Not even a corner. In fairness, the entire Milan side looked bereft of ideas as a series of seemingly random substitutions took every semblance of coherence out of the team. And perhaps on another day, the referee doesn't fail to spot the shirt tug on Torres from Giorgio Chiellini in the area.
No, Marko Marin didn't play. Again. So he once again cheerleads this section all the way from Firenze.
Unfortunately, he did not have much reason to wave his pom-poms around either as out of the German quartet, only Oriol Romeu saw any minutes. Thorgan Hazard and Lucas Piazon were unused substitutes across three matches in total while Tomáš Kalas remained firmly stuck in the stinky Cologne basket.
Romeu's VfB Stuttgart somewhat hilariously lost 0-2 for the third match in a row and have fallen to the bottom of the BuLi. The 22-year-old started, just as he had all three prior league matches, but was withdrawn on 75 minutes as the home side looked for an equalizer. Instead, they proceeded to concede again. Hopefully they turn their fortunes around soon; would hate to see new head coach Armin "The Messiah" Veh dismissed since he quite obviously rates your Oriol.
PREMIER LEAGUE ANTI-WENGER AGENTS
There were starts for Ryan Bertrand, Victor Moses, and Christian Atsu (in one of Everton's two matches during the week) but Nathaniel Chalobah remained on the Burnley sidelines. Atsu unfortunately didn't have the greatest time of it either, lasting barely over an hour as Everton lost 2-3 at home to Crystal Palace. With a bit more luck, he could've grabbed a goal and an assist (Lukaku's shot was cleared off the line), but he was far too often neutralized by Joel Ward and seemed to grow more and more frustrated. Very similar performance to his efforts at the World Cup, come to think of it. No defensive support whatsoever for the Everton right back either.
In happier news, Ryan Bertrand showcased what he learned from Ashley Cole during all those years at Chelsea and helped So'ton keep a clean sheet in Wales, which vaulted the Saints into second place in the Premier League. While there are a few possible advantages to not putting a man on the post when defending a corner, Bertrand showed why you should always put one there when he cleared Wilfried Bony's header off the line in the 37th minute. Bertie had a good showing overall, battling well with Nathan Dyer while also supporting the attack with a few (not always accurate) crosses.
Victor Moses meanwhile was back in London as Stoke visited Loftus Road and managed just a 2-2 draw. Moses got the assist for Stoke's second, drawing plaudits from both his manager and the recipient of the cross Peter Crouch.
"He has been excellent in every game he's played. He's given us that pace that we lacked last year, which is a marked difference in how we play away from home now."
"He's had two years where he hasn't played a great deal of football, which isn't anything to do with his ability. He's always been very talented and we are delighted with what he's produced."
-Mark Hughes; source: Goal
ELSEWHERE -- TOP FLIGHT
Joao Rodriguez (SC Bastia), Mario Pašalić (Elche), Islam Feruz (OFI Crete), and Cristián Cuevas (U. de Chile) didn't play a single minute, though Cuevas at least has a good excuse since the Chilean first division took the weekend off.
The non-impostor version of Gaël Kakuta (at least we're assuming this is the real one) continued his good form by playing the full 90 and scoring for the second successive week, though his Rayo Vallecano chums were eventually sunk 4-2 by a mostly dominant Yellow Submarine.
ELSEWHERE -- LOWER LEAGUE
One tier below Kakuta, Tenerife's Ulises Dávila also found the back of the net, though he, too, ended up on the losing side. Just a sub last weekend, Dávila is hopeful that the goal will restore him into the starting lineup this weekend in the local derby against Las Palmas. In further mystery man news, he's apparently planning on becoming a naturalized Spanish citizen this summer, which could help improve his chances of a career at Chelsea from impossible to technically possible but yeah, no.
Over in France, Matej Delač and AC Arles-Avignon lost 1-0 to Brest. Sounds like there wasn't much Delač could do about Alexandre Alphonse's winner.
Lastly and, unfortunately, leastly (is that a word?), John Swift was nowhere to be found as Rotherham played a couple matches this past week. Well, actually, he was to be found in their under-21 squad, but that's certainly something he could be doing at Chelsea, too. It's not looking good for Swifty at the moment...