Nathan Ake, as has become near convention for Watford, started in his usual left-back spot as the Hornets entertained Stoke
alona City at Vicarage Road. Ake was probably the only one out of the rarely underperforming Watford defence to come out of the game with any sort of credit, as Watford crumbled to a 1-2 loss. Also, for the first time this season, Ake failed to complete the 90 minutes, taken off in the 76th after suffering a slight knock and was replaced by Ikechi Anya. However, the aforementioned affliction was of no significant consequence, as Ake resumed duties with the Dutch Under-21 side in the following week for the international break.
I was half-expecting Ake to be called up to the senior Oranje side, who have next to nothing to play for, following his consistently impressive performances in the Premier League but the sought-after Jetro Willems of PSV and ex-Chelsea player, Patrick van Aanholt were given the nod instead. It should only be a matter of time before Ake does receive the call-up though, provided he gets regular playing time at his home for the 2016/17 season, be it at SW6 or elsewhere.
Victor Moses, was, of course, ineligible for West Ham United, as they took on his parent club.
Patrick Bamford earned his second consecutive start for Norwich City, this time against an opposition where they weren't afraid to attack. Bamford played behind striker Dieumerci Mbokani, and had a decent outing against opponents West Bromwich Albion, doing enough to perhaps make a case for starting their next game as well. He was subbed off for Steven Naismith in the 72nd, but not before Robbie Brady scored the only goal of the game to give the Canaries a much-needed 1-0 win. Norwich are very much in the relegation dogfight, currently sitting in 17th, two points clear of Sunderland and three clear of Newcastle, but having played a game more than either. Let's hope Bamford can open his account sooner rather than later and help them steer clear of the drop!
Here's a short AnglianAsks Q&A session with Patrick:
Tomas Kalas started in the central defence for Middlesbrough and put in a stellar defensive performance alongside Ben Gibson, helping his side notch a crucial 1-0 victory against Hull City, putting some distance between themselves and the Tigers, who now sit four points behind Boro, in fourth. Boro have the opportunity to leapfrog Brighton and Hove Albion into second spot if they win their game in hand.
John Swift wasn't in the Brentford squad for their 0-1 loss to Blackburn Rovers, left out apparently due to a social media gaffe. He was called up to the England U21 squad but sustained an injury, forcing him off in the 27th minute of their match against Switzerland.
Substitution: Jordon Ibe has replaced John Swift. 27min. Switzerland 0-0 England U21s— England (@england) March 26, 2016
Michael Hector assumed his place in the Reading midfield, while Lucas Piazon missed out due to illness, as the Royals played out a 1-1 draw against Cardiff City.
Jordan Houghton started once more for Gillingham, but couldn't help them avoid a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Luton Town. He then started on the 25th, against Morecambe and scored his first goal in a Plymouth shirt, helping them to a 2-0 victory.
Here was Jordan Houghton first goal for Plymouth Argyle on his 3rd start for the club since his loan move. pic.twitter.com/u12tCBycgz— ChelseaLoans (@ChelseaLoans) March 26, 2016
Andreas Christensen, oh Andreas Christensen. Despite an eventual 2-1 loss to Schalke, Christensen scored a great goal, equalising for his side in the 79th minute (they would go on to concede four minutes later), displaying great composure and slotting home with a finish that any striker would be proud of!
Papy Djilobodji started in Werder Bremen's 1-1 draw against FSV Mainz, and managed to brandish a throat-slitting gesture towards opposition midfielder, Pablo De Blasis while at it. He initially received a three-match ban and a fine for his troubles, but following an appeal by his club, the ban was reduced by one game. He then publicly apologised for his actions.
I hope this successfully answers any queries we had regarding the signing of good ol' Papy. True Blue Enemy of Football indeed, aye?
Despite not impressing by any means, Vitesse grabbed a refreshing 3-0 victory over FC Groningen, with a quick-fire three goals coming in a 12-minute stretch in the second half. Starting and ending the rout was none other than our own Dominic Solanke, who replaced Izzy Brown in the 65th minute, marking his return from injury with a double, taking his tally this season to seven. Lewis Baker started and was subbed off for the scorer of Vitesse's second goal, Valeri Qazaishvili, to whom Baker was finally preferred in an attacking midfield role. Nathan was an 82nd minute substitute, for Milot Rashica.
Todd Kane and NEC Nijmegen suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss to ADO Den Haag, while PSV fell 0-2 to Ajax, conceding their pole position in the Eredivisie table to the Amsterdam side and now trailing in second place by two points. Marco van Ginkel played the whole game. Meanwhile, Vitesse sit in 7th place, now six points behind Feyenoord in third, and NEC are in 9th place, 3 points behind Vitesse.
Mario Pasalic was out injured for Monaco, but Jeremie Boga made the most of his 25-minute cameo against Marseille, with this incredible run and was greatly unfortunate not to find the back of the net to cap it off.
Charly Musonda started for Real Betis and Christian Atsu was a late substitute for Malaga, as the latter's side prevailed 1-0 in Seville, making it two consecutive losses for Real Betis. As usual, a touch-by-touch video of Musonda's performance is available on YouTube.
Despite rumours of his potential inclusion in the Belgian senior side due to injuries to Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, Musonda wasn't given the nod, and chosen for the Under-21 side instead.
Juan Cuadrado suffered a Champions League heartbreak with Juventus, going two goals ahead against the behemoth that is Bayern Munich, at the Allianz Arena, even, only to go on to lose the tie in Extra Time. Cuadrado scored his side's second goal, applying a fitting, composed finish to a superb solo run by Alvaro Morata. He was then a 50th minute substitute for Stephan Lichtsteiner in the weekend's Turin derby, which Juventus comfortably won, 4-1.
Nathaniel Chalobah and Stipe Perica were unused substitutes for their respective sides, Napoli and Udinese.
Kenneth Omeruo was out of Kasimpasa's 4-1 loss to Bursaspor due to injury, while Marko Marin played the whole of Trabzonspor's loss to Besiktas.
Alex Davey, one of the two players Chelsea sent on loan to Scandinavian sides recently, made his debut for Norwegian side Stabaek, although surprisingly as a midfielder. Davey put in a solid shift, as his side lost 2-1 to a Molde side, featuring Eidur Gudjohnsen!
Jamal Blackman was sent on loan to Swedish side, Ostersunds, who are due to kick off their season on the 4th of April, but made his first appearance for the side in a friendly.
Wallace remained out for Gremio due to injury.