Quite the week up in ol' Ironopolis, despite Boro failing to grab a win in either of their two matches. By extension, it was quite the week for the Chelsea trio on loan there.
Goalkeeper Jamal Blackman made his debut in the epic 2-2 draw and subsequent 30-round penalty kick shootout against Liverpool in the League Cup. We make plenty of fun of Liverpool and their obsession with history around here, but there are few more hallowed places in world football than Anfield, and it must've been quite the occasion for 20-year-old Jamal to get his first ever professional start there. Perhaps that played a part in the first goal conceded, largely a result of a mixup between Blackman and Omeruo, but questions must be asked (and lessons must be learned) from the inexplicable decision to try to stop Jordan Rossiter's eventual shot with feet instead of hands.
Kenneth Omeruo played the whole game (and converted his spot kick), while Patrick Bamford was a very late substitution in extra time, coming on in the 112th minute after Liverpool had taken the lead again. He made a massive impact in his 8 minutes however, winning and converting a last-minute penalty kick to send the game into the aforementioned shootout. Unfortunately, he missed one of his two kicks there.
After the midweek extracurricular activities, Boro came to London to take on unbeaten Charlton Athletic in the league. In the end, the 0-0 draw at the Valley was a good result, as the hosts had several chances to grab a winner in the last few minutes after Omeruo was forced off with an injury and Albert Adomah was sent off for a second yellow card. While Blackman was back to his backup duties (and veteran starter Dimitrios Konstantopoulos played very well again), Bamford played the full game and came close with a couple chances. He also may or may not have been elbowed in the face by Andre Bikey, but the referee ignored the incident despite mass demonstrations by the Boro sideline.
Omeruo's injury is not expected to cause him to miss any time. Great news for the team and the young man whom I've seen called the best center back in the division by a few sources. With Omeruo and Dani Ayala in the center of defense, Boro have kept three straight clean sheets in the league and have conceded just twice in the last five matches.
Like most teams around Europe's top leagues this week, Vitesse also played two games over the last seven days. First, they made hard work of amateur side VVSB in the cup, before opening a can on Dordrecht to the tune of 6-2 and finally climbing out of the relegation zone in the Eredivisie.
Fully recovered from injury, Bertrand Traoré started both games, scoring in the first and assisting in the second. Wallace also grabbed himself a goal in the league, while even Josh McEachran got to play in the yellow-black shirt for the first time ever in the cup game.
Don't forget to read Jake's weekly Vitesse update for further details.
At the Cobham East annex, Stipe Perica had himself a grand ol'e time playing against Ajax, grabbing a brace including a stupendous second. Unfortunately the rest of his teammates had anything but a grand ol'e time as the visitors ran out 5-2 winners. Here's Perica's second goal that's worth a few repeat viewings.
There was midweek magic in Milan as well, as Fernando Torres had the cheek to score on his full Milan debut. Lovely header, too, shades of his opener in that 8-0 win over Aston Villa. In stark contrast, in the same match, Marco van Ginkel's bad luck continued as Wulfert suffered an ankle injury that's expect to keep him out for about a month.
Torres kept his place for the weekend clash against Cesena but was back to his less than impressive self as Milan failed to win for the third match running.
Unlike last week, Marko Marin at least had something to cheer. Though he himself continues to be M.I.A. at Fiorentina. (Some say he's injured? That would be the least surprising development ever.)
Thorgan Hazard finally got his first start (playing left wing like older brother) after six substitute appearances as Gladbach continued their excellent start to the season. They won both of their games this week and have climbed to second in the Bundesliga. Hazard went as an unused substitute for the weekend match, but earned his coach's praise for his midweek performance where he ran himself into the ground.
Speaking of good results, both Lucas Piazon and Oriol Romeu helped their respective teams earn four points this week. Piazon's Eintracht Frankfurt followed a midweek draw with a stunning last-minute win courtesy of the Brazilian's ridiculous free kick. Young Lucas wasted no time in letting the world know that he is, indeed, quite a catch. Romeu's contributions to VfB Stuttgart were not quite so flashy (ridiculous landing strip haircut aside), but they were no less instrumental to their second draw and first win of the season.
Over in Cologne, Tomáš Kalas has managed to escape the basket for once, but made it only as far as the substitutes bench as 1. FC Köln tripled their total number of goals conceded on the season by losing 0-2 to Bayern Munich.
PREMIER LEAGUE ANTI-WENGER AGENTS
First-choice left back in the shop window (£10m buy option on his loan contract), Ryan Bertrand celebrated his first goal for Southampton (and just the fourth in his career) by firing some potshots at Chelsea. In all seriousness, Bertrand's having a good time on the south coast -- nice Ferrari, mate -- as the Saints kept a hold on second place in the Premier League. May he finally be successful in finding that permanent home that he so clearly desires. (Southampton also scored a fun midweek victory over Arsenal in the League Cup, though Bertie only played the last 5 minutes in that one.)
Similar fun times are happening for Victor "Holy" Moses at Stoke City. Another assist and match-winning performance (including a blatantly ignored penalty shout) against Newcastle on Monday. Like Bertrand, Moses also got 5 minutes in the midweek League Cup victory for Mark Hughes's men.
Christian Atsu is a bit further down in the Everton pecking order than either of the previous AWAs at their respective teams, which meant 90 minutes of disappointing League Cup action and zero minutes of exciting Merseyside derby action for the young winger. Meanwhile, at Burnley, Nathaniel Chalobah made his Premier League debut, playing the entirety of the second half as the bottom-of-the-table-dwellers were played off the park by West Brom. Chalobah was happy with his own performance, and was one of the few Clarets to come out with any positives from the 4-0 debacle, which left many wondering why he wasn't starting in the first place.
ELSEWHERE -- TOP FLIGHT
Joao Rodriguez (SC Bastia), Islam Feruz (OFI Crete), and Cristián Cuevas (U. de Chile) didn't play a single minute, though all except young Cuevas were on the bench at least.
Our La Liga duo fared a bit better, at least Gaël Kakuta did as he was once again instrumental to Rayo Vallecano, who won both their games this week, their first two wins of the league season. Through the first six matches, the trio of Alberto Bueno, Léo Baptistão, and Kakuta have been responsible for all 10 of Rayo's goals. Mario Pašalić was markedly less influential as Elche slumped to two defeats. The 19-year-old featured only in the 5-1 defeat away to Real Madrid, getting 25 minutes as a substitute. Somewhat harshly, he was adjudged to have given away a penalty when Cristiano Ronaldo fell over in his vicinity.
ELSEWHERE -- LOWER LEAGUE
Ulises Dávila had hoped to get a start in the derby against top of the Spanish second division table Las Palmas, but he got only 10 minutes at the end as Tenerife pulled off the upset. Meanwhile, in the French second division, Matej Delač shipped five goals total as AC Arles-Avignon lost both their games over the past week. At least he's getting first-team minutes, unlike John Swift who once again only managed to find playing time in Rotherham's under-21 side (for whom he scored twice). There was a glimmer of hope for Swifty over the weekend as he was named to the bench from where he watched Steve Evans's side slump to a fourth loss and zero wins in six matches.