Nathan Ake was back in the thick of things for Watford, after being rested for their previous game versus Everton, his manager citing a possible burn-out. It's unclear if Ake is still above Jose Holebas in the pecking order as of right now, as Holebas did not travel to West Brom due to a slight knock. Nevertheless, in what was a deplorable game of football with neither team looking like they wanted to win, Watford prevailed 1-0, and in doing so, acquired the magic forty points that practically assures them a place in the Premier League next season.
Against the Baggies, whose starting XI has the highest average age in the Premier League, Ake faced off against the tenacious Stephane Sessegnon, and fared well enough, despite a gaping lack of competent support from the left-winger, Jurado. Sessegnon was, however, West Brom's most threatening player on the day. It remains to be seen which left-back Quique Sanchez Flores will pick for the Hornets' crucial FA Cup semi-final at Wembley next weekend; here's to hoping it's Ake.
Not one of the nicest games but we still had to win! Well done boys, and @hdgomes ! @watfordfcofficial pic.twitter.com/xIU5VbjWCV— Nathan Aké (@NathanAke) April 16, 2016
Patrick Bamford, for reasons left to our own imagination, extrapolation, divination, did not feature in Norwich City's match-day squad.
Victor Moses made a rare start and played 72 minutes, as Michail Antonio was shifted to right-back for West Ham's clash against the effervescent Leicester City. Moses also played, albeit just as a substitute, in West Ham's midweek FA Cup replay against Manchester United, which they lost 1-2. Moses replaced Enner Valencia on 62 minutes.
Tomas Kalas, after his recent run in the side, played a total of just about one entire minute in Middlesbrough's 2-1 victories against Reading (in midweek) and Bolton Wanderers. With the top three teams in the Championship table now equal in the number of games played, Boro sit atop the table with a two-point lead over Burnley and a four-point lead over third-placed Brighton and Hove Albion, with four games to play. Boro have been knocking on the promotion door for the last two seasons, and hopefully will be successful in their endeavours this time around.
Lucas Piazon played 59 minutes in the aforementioned midweek fixture for Reading against Boro, and 78 minutes in their subsequent 3-2 loss against Leeds United. Michael Hector started and completed both games, also opening the scoring for his side in the latter.
John Swift missed out on any action yet again due to an injury suffered during the international break.
Jordan Houghton played the whole match for Plymouth Argyle, who scored two late goals to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat at Portsmouth. Northampton Town have all but run away with the League Two title, but Plymouth still remain only two points behind second-placed Oxford United and one behind third-placed Bristol Rovers. The top three earn automatic promotion to League One.
Vitesse Arnhem continue to stumble towards the end of the season, managing no better than 1-1 against Heracles Almelo. Despite being one of their best performers in recent times, Lewis Baker was, curiously, benched for this one; Dominic Solanke was the only Chelsea loanee to start the game, and was subbed off after 82 minutes.
Instagram tells me that Danilo Pantic, after rehabilitating his injury in London, has returned to Arnhem, while Nathan's daily Snapchat stories tell me he's back in the Netherlands as well. Izzy Brown, I shall just have to assume, is still in London/Arnhem, nursing his latest injury.
Marco van Ginkel started for PSV, who continued to swat aside all teams not named Ajax, this time beating Roda JC 3-0.
There was victory for NEC in Nijmegen, too, as they prevailed 2-1 over SC Cambuur. Todd Kane, of course, completed the whole game.
Good 3 points today and on to the next one also really happy to get goal of the month for NEC— Todd Kane (@Toddy_Kane) April 17, 2016
With only three games left to play, Vitesse have dropped out of even the Europa League Qualification Round playoff spots. NEC currently occupy the final play-off spot (7th), and PSV are neck-to-neck with Ajax at the helm, although have an inferior goal-difference.
Nathaniel Chalobah and Stipe Perica were unused substitutes, but there was a start and a goal for Juan Cuadrado, who was one of Juventus' four goalscorers in their 4-0 win against Palermo. With a nine-point lead over Napoli, the Bianconeri are marching towards yet another Scudetto with relative ease.
Charly Musonda started on the left wing and was taken off in injury time, as Real Betis played out a 1-1 draw against Celta de Vigo.
Christian Atsu played 20 minutes for Malaga in their 1-0 loss to Bilbao.
Jeremie Boga was brought on for the second half, but witnessed a shocking Rennes collapse, as they conceded three goals in 14 minutes to lose 0-3 to Guingamp. Chances of Champions League qualification have all but slipped out of Rennes' hands now.
Mario Pasalic has yet to recover from an unfortunate back injury, although Monaco currently sit pretty in second place. The race for the Champions League spots is tight though, with Lyon, Nice and Saint-Etienne ensuring that there are no guarantees for Monaco yet.
Borussia Monchengladbach continued with their Jekyll-and-Hyde form, frustratingly losing to rock-bottom Hannover, 2-0. Andreas Christensen had some big boots to fill in this game, pushed up to midfield in the absence of captain Granit Xhaka, who missed out due to an unsurprising accumulation of yellow cards. On a day when Gladbach looked absolutely uninspired, Christensen did his best to keep the ball ticking in midfield, but obviously lacked the impact on the game that Xhaka usually has. The Foals' Champions League prospects are looking increasingly bleak by the week.
Papy Djilobodji sat out for the last match of his 3-game ban, and should return to the side next week. It's worth mentioning, though, that Werder Bremen beat Wolfsburg 3-2.
Kenneth Omeruo played the whole of Kasimpasa's 1-2 loss to Kayerispor, while Marko Marin and Trabzonspor are due to take on GSK Ankara tonight. Watch this space for any updates!
There was no clean sheet for Jamal Blackman, but there was another win, with Ostersunds FK clinching a 2-1 victory against BK Hacken.
Alex Davey was hauled off at half-time, as Stabaek drew 1-1 against Sarpsborg 08.
Cristian Cuevas played the whole 90 for STVV, who lost 1-0 to Sporting Lokeren. In the process, Cuevas crossed the 2000-minute mark for the season. Much-needed minutes for the Chilean youngster, who hasn't had the best of luck with his previous loans. STVV had a player sent off at the death, but it wasn't Victorien Angban, who kept the bench warm.
Wallace played the whole of Gremio's 3-2 win against LDU Quito.
Matej Delac has been training with FK Sarajevo, although it's unclear whether he may be able to make a full appearance before the season is out.
Happy to be back at full training with the team @FK_Sarajevo ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/1ge7XjFzB6— Matej Delač (@MatejDelac) April 12, 2016