Bristol City further strengthened their position in the league table and distanced themselves further from the relegation zone with a 2-1 win against QPR and a 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers. Tammy Abraham started both games, playing the full 90 against Blackburn but only 75 against QPR. He also scored his 25th goal of the season against Blackburn, running in behind the Blackburn defence to get on the end of a lobbed through ball and back-heeling the ball past the keeper, with utmost cheek.
With three games to go, City find themselves in 18th place, 4 points adrift of the relegation zone, meaning that if they win their next game and Blackburn lose theirs, the Robins’ safety would be confirmed.
A point & a goal ⚽️... thanks to the travelling fans ❤️ pic.twitter.com/GCVswlCJqN— Tammy abraham (@tammyabraham) April 17, 2017
Upcoming fixtures: Barnsley (H, April 22)
Kasey Palmer and Izzy Brown were absent for Huddersfield’s previous two games, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t nearing imminent returns. Huddersfield missed out on a huge opportunity to capitalise on Newcastle’s 3-1 defeat to Ipswich last evening; a win against Derby would see the Terriers within 5 points of Rafa Benitez’s side, with a game in hand. It wasn’t to be, though, as Huddersfield conceded a late goal to draw the game 1-1, meaning they occupy 4th place as of now, 7 points behind Newcastle with a game in hand.
Should they win that game in hand (which shall be against Wolves), to achieve automatic promotion they would require Newcastle to pick up no more than 4 points from their last 3 games, whilst picking up more points themselves.
Upcoming fixtures: Fulham (H, April 22)
Fikayo Tomori was an unused substitute for Brighton and Hove Albion, who sealed promotion to the Premier League after Huddersfield failed to win against Derby. Another win, or even Newcastle losing their next game would see them guaranteed to finish as champions, as well. Tomori thus became the second Chelsea loanee in as many years to achieve promotion to the Premier League with his loan club (the other being Tomas Kalas, with Middlesbrough).
Upcoming fixtures: Norwich (A, April 21)
Tomas Kalas put in a mature display in defence alongside USA international Tim Ream to help Fulham to a 3-1 win over Aston Villa; Lucas Piazon was an 86th minute substitute. This victory also saw them creep into the promotion play-off spots (at last), helped by Leeds United’s 0-1 loss to Wolves. Fulham are level on points with Leeds United but lead on a goal difference of 24, to 10.
Upcoming fixtures: Huddersfield (A, April 22)
Newcastle United have now failed to win any of their last 3 games, two of them being losses. Their latest loss, to Ipswich Town (in which Christian Atsu played the whole 90) put them in an even riskier position but Huddersfield managing only a draw against Derby gave them a little more breathing room. Automatic promotion still looks easily achievable for Newcastle though, as they need at least 5 points from their final three games.
Upcoming fixtures: Preston (H, April 24)
It’s worth a mention that former Chelsea youth player and loanee, John Swift looks set to compete in the play-offs with Reading, who currently occupy 3rd place, with a point’s lead over Huddersfield but having played a game more. Swifty has been an integral part of Reading’s season.
Jay Dasilva continued his run of starts, playing 90 minutes in a draw against Coventry and an emphatic 3-0 win at the Valley, against Gillingham. Dasilva was also named Man of the Match against Gillingham!
Jay Dasilva, MOTM last evening against Gillingham. pic.twitter.com/nBBWlnCWXi— Ram Srinivas (@rramesss) April 18, 2017
Charlton manager Karl Robinson, speaking to the press, said that it was still “too soon” to talk about keeping Dasilva around at Charlton next season as well, whilst also revealing that Dasilva’s lengthy spell on the bench was because he believed the youngster wasn’t ready for men’s football, then.
“It’s still too soon (to talk about keeping him next season).”
“He’s a Chelsea player. I knew the talent he had but didn’t think he was ready for men’s football.
“I know Chelsea were not overly happy about that but they’ve got to trust me. I know when the time is right to put them in. When he got his chance he has never looked back.
“He is an England under-19 international – his talent isn’t in question. When he didn’t play he didn’t moan. I spoke about work ethic – how training has got to be like a game for him. He took that on board and has been brilliant.
“I do need someone in that position. Foxy [Morgan Fox] has been a loss – that’s a debate amongst our fans, whether he was or wasn’t. Since he has gone we have struggled in that area.
“When I first walked into the building I thought we dropped deep too much – our full-backs didn’t get over the halfway line or past our wide players.
“I want to play offensive full-backs. It is exciting and risky, but when you get it right it is almost like having two more wingers. Here at The Valley we have to be putting teams under pressure.”
- Karl Robinson (source: London News Online)
Charlie Colkett and Fankaty Dabo started for Swindon in a goalless draw against Wimbledon, and a 1-0 loss to Walsall. Swindon Town remain in the relegation zone, a point behind Port Vale, although having played a game more.
Jake Clarke-Salter played a whole 90 minutes for Bristol Rovers in a 3-1 loss to Gillingham, in which Rovers conceded two goals in the last six minutes (including injury time). He was then not involved in the following game, that came two days later.
Alex Kiwomya played 45 minutes in Crewe’s 3-0 loss to Yeovil.
Jamal Blackman started in Wycombe’s 0-1 loss to Mansfield and kept a clean sheet in the following game, a 0-2 win against Barnet, his 13th of the season. Blackman’s double save in the first half ensured that Wycombe still remained with a chance of making the promotion play-offs, and his manager Gareth Ainsworth claimed (not for the first time this season) that Jamal would definitely play at the very top level some day.
"The boys deserved that but Jamal Blackman was outstanding.
"He kept us in it at 1-0 and the save in the second half (from Bover) was one of the best saves I have seen all season.
"Jamal made a double save in the first half that possibly no other keeper in the league could do and no keeper in the league would have been able to do his second save.
"That is what he is paid to do. Like I keep saying he will play at the very top.
"Sam produced an absolute moment of genius to get the first goal and I am sure that will be shown quite a few times on the TV.
"It was great for him to open his account and I thought he had an excellent game and when the game opens up, he produces moment of brilliance.
"I thought we got it right today and the result says that as well. It is fantastic to be just two points off the playoffs at this stage.
"What a position to be in and I am really looking forward to Saturday's game against Doncaster."
- Gareth Ainsworth (source: Bucks Free Press)
Nathan Baxter was restored to the Solihull Moors line-up following a horrendous 9-0 loss, for which he was dropped; he started in a 1-3 win against Macclesfield Town and a 1-2 loss to York City.
Andreas Christensen started as Borussia Monchengladbach lost 5-3 to third-placed Hoffenheim. With 5 games left to play, only 4 points separate themselves and Hertha Berlin in 5th place, which is the spot that grants qualification to the Europa League group stage. Furthermore, only 2 points separate Gladbach and 6th-placed Freiburg; the 6th-placed team is placed in the third-round of Europa League qualifying. So there’s still everything to play for at this point, for Gladbach.
Upcoming fixtures: Borussia Dortmund (H, April 22)
Michael Hector was uninvolved for Eintracht Frankfurt, who occupy 10th place, with a point less than Gladbach.
Upcoming fixtures: Augsburg (H, April 22)
Vitesse suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Excelsior (for whom Danilo Pantic was not involved), but did not budge from their league table position of 5th. Lewis Baker, Nathan and Matt Miazga all started the game, playing 75, 63 and 27 minutes respectively. The reason for Miazga’s early substitution was a hamstring injury; let’s hope it’s nothing major and that he can resume his good form in the heart of the Vitesse defence as soon as possible, and definitely before the KNVB Beker final against AZ Alkmaar.
Upcoming fixtures: Feyenoord (H, April 23)
Bertrand Traore put in an excellent display in Ajax’s 2-0 first leg win against Schalke in the Quarter Finals of the Europa League, which only lacked a goal. He was then (presumably) rested over the weekend, not leaving the bench in Ajax’s 5-1 win against Heerenveen. Exciting times at Ajax, as the club look to make the semi-finals of the Europa League, as well as overtake Feyenoord, who are only a point ahead of them.
Upcoming fixtures: Schalke 04 (A, April 20), PSV (A, April 23)
Marco van Ginkel played 90 minutes in PSV’s 1-1 draw against ADO Den Haag.
Upcoming fixtures: Ajax (H, April 23)
The Belgian First Division A has split up into three play-off groups. The first group is the championship group, consisting of six teams, each beginning with half their points (rounded up) from the regular season. The winner of this group qualifies for the Champions League group stage, the second-placed side is placed into the third qualifying round of the Champions League, the third-placed side to the third qualifying round of the Europa League and the fourth (or fifth, depending on the cup winner)-placed side is granted a place in the Europa League play-off final.
The other two groups, also consisting of 6 teams each, including 3 (2+1) teams from the Belgian second division, fight it out for a place in the Europa League play-off semi finals. The winners of both groups compete in the aforementioned semi-final, and the winner goes on to challenge the fourth (or fifth) placed side from the Championship group in the Europa League play-off finals. The winner of the play-off finals is granted a place in the *drumroll* third qualification round of the Europa League.
Cristian Cuevas and STVV are in the second group (or Europa League Group A), and currently are in second placed, tied on points but behind on goal difference to Belgian Second Division side, Union SG. Cuevas played 39 minutes against Lierse.
Matej Delac and Royal Excel Mouscron are in the third group (or Europa League Group B) and are 4th, with only 3 points (the leaders, Genk, have 9). Delac has dropped to the bench for the play-offs though, with Mouscron perhaps preparing for a future without him.
Jeremie Boga played the final 15-odd minutes of Tony Adams’ first game in charge of Granada, that ended in a 0-3 loss to Celta Vigo. Victorien Angban was uninvolved. With 6 games to play, Granada are 7 points (realistically 8, given their terrible goal difference of -41) from safety.
Upcoming fixtures: Sevilla (A, April 21)
Mario Pasalic was suspended due to yellow card accumulation and hence missed the Milan derby.
Upcoming fixtures: Empoli (H, April 23)
Miro Muheim made the bench once for FC Zurich, but no more than that.