Nathan Ake, who has been consistently impressive in his loan spell at Watford this season, has found Arsenal to be a bit of a bogey team for him personally, tending to get into trouble when his flank is overloaded by the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Hector Bellerin. The fact that Etienne Capoue decides not to turn up against bigger teams and hence offers very little protection on the left doesn't help either. In their third encounter of the season, Arsenal emerged victorious in an aptly convincing manner, mauling the Hornets 4-0.
In a match where it was largely one-way traffic, Ake didn't exactly cover himself in glory, getting beaten in the air by Alexis Sanchez (who is by no means a giant), leading to Watford conceding the first goal of the game and generally having a tough time against the Arsenal right flank. Hopefully, the young Dutchman will take this in his stride and continue his previous good form against Watford's next opponents, Everton.
Patrick Bamford was not called upon by Norwich City, who ran out 3-2 winners in a nail-biting encounter against Rafa Benitez's Newcastle United. One of the scorers of Norwich's three goals happened to be Dieumerci Mbokani, who had a decent outing otherwise as well, meaning that Bamford might continue to be limited to a substitute role, unless he is preferred to Steven Naismith as a second striker.
Victor Moses, too, did not make his way onto the pitch this weekend and according to Sky Sports, West Ham have decided to let Moses and fellow loanees, Alex Song and Emmanuel Emenike return to their parent clubs at the end of the season, opting against making any of their deals permanent.
Tomas Kalas played another solid 90 minutes for Middlesbrough, as they prevailed 3-2 against QPR and moved up to second position in the Championship, a point above third-placed Brighton and Hove Albion and three points behind leaders Burnley, having a game in hand over both. The matches will come thick and fast now until the end of the season, as the unforgiving promotion rat-race begins to heat up. Kalas should once again prove to be a key player for Boro in this crucial run-in.
Lucas Piazon started for Reading in their 1-0 victory over Bolton and played an hour, while Michael Hector missed the game through an injury picked up during international duty.
John Swift, a victim of a horror challenge while playing for the England U21 side over the international break, also missed out for Brentford.
Jordan Houghton started yet again for Plymouth Argyle in a local derby against Exeter, and put in an impressive display, earning lavish praise from his manager after the game, despite Plymouth losing the derby.
Andreas Christensen and Borussia Monchengladbach hit the ground running after the international break, making an absolute meal out of the occupants of third place in the Bundesliga table, Hertha Berlin, thrashing them 5-0. Gladbach are part of a tight race for the third and fourth Champions League qualification spots, with only four points separating the teams from third to seventh.
Papy Djilobodji served the second of his three-game ban, sitting out of Werder Bremen's 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund.
It was Derby week in Gelderland, as traditional bitter rivals, NEC Nijmegen and Vitesse Arnhem went head-to-head, with both teams fielding Chelsea loanees in their starting line-ups. Todd Kane started as usual for NEC, while Lewis Baker, Dominic Solanke and Nathan started for Vitesse. Izzy Brown missed out due to injury picked up on (surprise, surprise) international duty. Going into the final ten minutes of the game with a two goal lead, Todd Kane conceded a free kick that Lewis Baker duly converted. Vitesse, however, failed to build upon their short-lived resurgence and ultimately lost the derby 2-1.
Baker and Solanke lasted the whole 90, while Nathan limped off after sustaining a back injury in the 66th minute. Todd Kane played the whole game as well, largely impressing. Vitesse and NEC now sit in 7th and 8th positions respectively, level on points but with Vitesse having a goal difference of 21, as opposed to NEC's 0.
9 - Lewis Baker created nine chances vs. N.E.C., a record for a player in an Eredivisie game this season. Fulcrum.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) April 3, 2016
Marco van Ginkel continued his prolific form in front of goal since his loan move to PSV Eindhoven in January, scoring his fourth and fifth goals of the (half) season in their 4-2 victory against AZ Alkmaar
4 - Since his debut for @PSV (Feb 2016), Marco van Ginkel has been the top goalscorer of the club in all competitions. Impact.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) April 2, 2016
Charly Musonda started for Real Betis despite his exertions with the Belgium U21 side, and for the first time in his spell at Betis, was subbed off during the course of the game. With Atletico Madrid 3-0 up (and eventually winning 5-1), Musonda was substituted in the 71st minute, as Betis were resigned to their third straight loss.
As always, here is a touch-by-touch video of Musonda's game.
Christian Atsu was handed 22 minutes off the bench for Malaga, who drew 1-1 against Espanyol. More interesting than his loan spell in Spain so far, is this interview of Atsu with Cross the Line, where he speaks about his views on God, faith and football.
Juan Cuadrado was a 54th minute substitute for Juventus against Empoli.
Udinese and Napoli squared off this weekend, with Nathaniel Chalobah an unused substitute for Napoli and Stipe Perica getting a 5-minute cameo for Udinese. Napoli suffered a surprising loss at the hands of their lesser opponents and, with a six-point lead, the title-race is now firmly in Juve's control.
Jeremie Boga made a 20-minute cameo for Rennes, who comfortably ran out 3-1 victors against Reims.
Jeremie Boga wins the ball, beats 1, beats 2, beats 3, gets into the box... andddddd a Rennes player steals a shot from him.— ChelseaLoans (@ChelseaLoans) April 2, 2016
That pretty much sums up Boga's loan spell at Rennes this season.
Mario Pasalic is still at Cobham, being treated for an injury.
Alex Davey started in midfield (central, this time) for Stabaek and played an hour, in their loss to Bodo/Glimt.
Jamal Blackman may be due to make his Ostersunds debut, as the side travels to Hammarby to kick-off their Allsvenskan season.
Marko Marin played the whole 90 as Trabzonspor won 1-0 against Gaziantepspor, while Kasimpasa host Besiktas on Monday, with Kenneth Omeruo looking to make his return from injury. Although not coming from the most reliable of sources, Omeruo could be in line for a move to the Premier League next season, with Crystal Palace rumoured to be interested. Take this with appropriate amounts of salt.
The Jupiler League, strange in its ways, has begun its play-off phase, with the League table divided into different groups. STVV are in Group 3, and are technically playing for a qualification spot in the Europa League (let me remind you that they finished fourth from bottom). They lost their first match, though, against Yellow-Red Mechelen, 1-0. Cristian Cuevas played the whole 90, Victorien Angban and Joao Rodriguez missed out due to suspension and (probably/anyone's guess) injury.
Wallace returned from injury and started in Gremio's 2-2 draw against Juventude.
Also returning from a much more lengthy injury lay-off might be Matej Delac, who ruptured his ACL early in the season. He has joined up with his teammates in Sarajevo and is on his way to full fitness.