There was footballing action aplenty for our loanees in different corners of Europe on Friday and Saturday. Without any further ado..
Nathan Ake retained his place in the Watford starting XI, as Jose Manuel Jurado remains out because of a hamstring injury. The Watford defence faced a daunting challenge in the form of Arsenal's wealth of attacking talents this week. The Hornets, including Ake at left back, put up an inspired resistance at first, but somewhat lost the plot in the final 30 minutes. In the first half, Ake was mostly up against the combination of Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin. While Ramsey was easily kept at bay, Bellerin posed more of a problem with his stellar bursts of pace.
Compared to his full debut versus Bournemouth, Ake did look much better this time around, with some strong tackling, occasional pressing in midfield when required and even a few forward runs to help his team out on the rare occasion that they decided to build an attack rather than just lobbing it up to Odion Ighalo. But, on 62 minutes, things quickly turned sour. Ake's last-ditch tackle on Mesut Ozil right in front of goal was certain to concede a penalty, if it weren't for Alexis Sanchez pouncing on the resulting loose ball to open the scoring. Barely five minutes passed when Olivier Giroud doubled Arsenal's lead. Another five minutes later it was three, as Hector Bellerin found his way past Ake all too easily and crossed for Ramsey to complete the scoring.
...at least it wasn't Alan Hutton, right?
While Ake did put in a decent shift overall despite being deployed not in his best position, it wouldn't be too surprising to see him drop back below Jose Holebas in the pecking order for left back. Though with Jurado out for a bit longer than was initially thought, here's hoping Ake gets a few more appearances to his name.
Victor Moses played 74 minutes for West Ham United, providing the assist for their opener. With each passing week, he continues to show why he should've actually been given a chance at Chelsea.
There was a lot of talk about Patrick Bamford's loan to Crystal Palace during the international break, with both Alan Pardew and Palace's assistant manager, Keith Millen, opening up on why the promising striker hasn't yet got his chance, yet Bamford was once again left on the bench for the duration of Palace's game versus West Ham. However, current first-choice striker, Dwight Gayle was shown a second yellow and dismissed just before the end of the first half, which might mean some sort of involvement for Bamford in the Eagles' next match. Fingers crossed!
In other news, the whereabouts of Ballon d'Or candidate Christian Atsu remain unknown...
In the Championship, both Lucas Piazon and Michael Hector started in Reading's 1-0 win over Charlton Athletic. While Hector remains a firm fixture in the heart of the Royals' defence alongside captain Paul McShane, Piazon is still struggling to impress — though he did grab the assist for the only goal of the game. Despite showing flashes of his obvious talent, the Brazillian youngster continues to look a bit too weak for the Championship.
Tomas Kalas put in another 90 minutes at right-back for Middlesbrough's clash against Fulham, while his agent is busy sorting out the player's long-term future.
Interestingly, Boro and Reading sit 2nd and 3rd, respectively in the Championship, with an identical goal difference as well, four points behind leaders Brighton & Hove Albion.
John Swift, after impressing in his first cameo for Brentford, started in the no.10 role against Rotherham and played 79 minutes. Manager Lee Carsley once again had good things to say about Swift.
Jordan Houghton watched League One leaders, Gillingham win 1-0 against Crewe from the bench, while Alex Davey wasn't involved for eighth-placed Peterborough in the same division.
As AS Monaco hosted always dangerous Lyon, Mario Pasalic started and finished the game in a deeper midfield role alongside Joao Moutinho. He still managed to score however, grabbing his side's only goal as they held Lyon to a 1-1 draw. Making the most of Anthony Lopes' missed punch, Pasalic finished off the corner kick with a comfortable header in what was, overall, a solid if unspectacular performance.
Here's his goal:
Andreas Christensen once again started in central defence for Borussia Monchengladbach, partnering Alvaro Dominguez, as Gladbach continued their fine form, crushing Eintracht Frankfurt 5-1. Some notable statistics for the 19-year-old were his five interceptions (second to only teammate Wendt's 6) and three out of four aerial duels won, one of them coming in the opposition penalty area.
After Manchester City two weeks ago, Christensen should face yet another quality opponent (and attack) in the Champions League in the form of Juventus.
Victorien Angban, who was called up to the Ivory Coast senior team in the recent International break, and Cristian Cuevas started for STVV, who lost 3-0 to KV Mechelen on the day. Angban played the whole 90 but Cuevas was replaced after 66 minutes, by none other than fellow loanee, Joao Rodriguez.
Angban had some strong words after the game, dismissing speculation that the STVV players weren't motivated enough to play. Speaking for himself also, he stated that he'd give his all for STVV and would rather "kill himself off" (translated) if he didn't, for it would impact his chances of being selected for the Ivory Coast team and his future transfer prospects to a big club.
Cristian Manea once again went unused on Mouscron's bench.
Islam Feruz finally made his return from injury for Hibernian, getting twenty minutes off the bench in a 4-2 victory over Dumbarton.