After getting sent off in the dying seconds of Everton’s 1-0 loss to Watford in the beginning of February, Kurt Zouma did not play for the Toffees until the Merseyside Derby, where he played well and helped Everton keep a clean sheet. Then, having started in their remarkable 3-2 collapse against Newcastle, he was ineligible to play against Chelsea.
Kenedy, meanwhile, has played 39 minutes across two substitute appearances. It’s been quite a fall from grace for the winger, who was one of the first names on the Newcastle team-sheet at this stage, last season.
Michy Batshuayi is established as Crystal Palace’s first-choice striker and is currently on a run of 4 goals and 1 assist in his last seven appearances for both, club and country. He was alert to capitalise on an error by Adrian Mariappa in the FA Cup Quarter Final against Watford, although Palace failed to progress to the final four of the cup competition.
He also scored against Burnley, contributing to his goal-every-other-game streak.
Mason Mount has only just resumed full training following a hamstring problem that kept him out for close to two months, a period in which Frank Lampard’s side have found points hard to come by. Derby have missed Mount in more ways than one, although this graphic highlights the extent of his creative influence.
Fikayo Tomori has been ever-present at the back and is emerging as a strong contender for Derby’s Player of the Year award. Tomori is undoubtedly one of the most promising ball-playing center-backs in the Football League and despite occasional growing pains (as all young players will tend to have), will be in a better league sooner or later.
After losing to a set-piece goal from bitter rivals Nottingham Forest and then being thrashed 4-0 at Villa Park - albeit with a depleted squad - Derby have gone unbeaten in their last three games, although there was just the solitary win. Three among their top five creators have been in and out of the side over the last two months; this compounded with Harry Wilson’s dip in form have understandably seen Derby’s form take a similar dive. Nevertheless, they’re still only a single point off 6th place (with a game in hand), and two off 5th. Despite their slump, the Rams still have it all to play for.
Michael Hector has enjoyed a starring role in Sheffield Wednesday’s resurgence under Steve Bruce. The Owls have been unbeaten in ten games, winning half of them, and have kept a whopping six clean sheets too. Contrary to previous campaigns as a Chelsea loan player, Hector has been consistently good for his club this season and is going from strength to strength under Bruce. Here’s an interesting poll which gauges how much Wednesday fans value him, monetarily.
He’s 27 this July, surely time to let go? One thing is for sure, he’ll have no lack of suitors in the summer.
Tammy Abraham registered a goal and an assist when Villa beat Derby 4-0 in their first match of the month but hasn’t scored since, despite an xG of 1.63. He limped off with a knock against Middlesbrough on the 16th and was included in the England Under-21 squad, but has had to pull out after failing to recover in time. Hopefully it isn’t too serious.
The rotation between Jay Dasilva and Lloyd Kelly for Bristol City at left-back continues but Jay has played more minutes of late. Tomas Kalas has been starting every game, while Kasey Palmer is still firmly on the fringes of the team. Palmer’s last start for the Robins came against Birmingham on the 27th of February and saw him hauled off at half-time. Since then, he’s had a couple of late cameos.
Izzy Brown made his Leeds United debut with a 9-minute sub appearance in a surprising 1-0 loss to QPR. He hasn’t played any minutes in the three games hence.
Trevoh Chalobah has been playing well for Ipswich Town, who’ve lost only one out of their last five matches but last won a game in January. Nevertheless, that’s an improvement on their previous form, which highlights just how bad they’ve been this season. Trev’s last two appearances have resulted in man-of-the-match performances, and one of them was only 49 minutes long! He’s come a long way since August.
Reece James has been deployed in midfield for four of his last five games; he’s now at six matches played in defensive midfield, where his performances have remained excellent. He claimed a set-piece assist in Wigan’s 5-2 win against Bolton, which was his third of the season. Wigan have been remarkably bad at finishing chances this season, if not for which James would probably be closer to his xA count of just over 8. If you were wondering just how much the Latics have depended on him this season, the answer is below.
There’s talk of Burnley wanting to take Reece James on loan next season if they stay up, and them offering him an important role in the squad as well. While it sounds like a good deal on paper, the loan spells of Nathaniel Chalobah and Patrick Bamford at Turf Moor have made sending players to Burnley something I’ll always be wary of.
Big Clayton Donaldson just tried to shoulder-barge Reece James in a sprint for the ball. Big Clayton Donaldson ended up on the deck. #wafc— Paul Kendrick (@PKendrickWIG) March 16, 2019
Lewis Baker and Matt Miazga have emerged as players integral to the plans of new Reading manager, Jose Gomes. Having played barely any football in a year and a half, Baker is still finding his groove but Miazga has been impressive. Dominant in the air as ever, he’s proved a complementary defensive partner for Liam Moore, who’s tasked with a greater responsibility when it comes to carrying the ball out of defence, or playing passes between the lines. Reading have crawled out of the relegation zone but only just, it’ll be a tense eight games ahead.
Hull City have had mixed results this month, and are win-less in their last three games. Todd Kane has been in the thick of things, playing the whole 90 in four of the last five matches. He’s also been their fifth-most creative player this season, although their dependency on Kamil Grosicki is the highest in the league by far.
Dujon Sterling started all of Coventry’s games, despite not hitting his performance levels from earlier this year. The Sky Blues are only two points off the final play-off spot. As part of the Reece James to Burnley rumor mentioned above, it was also claimed that Wigan would ask Chelsea for Sterling next season, which would be a good move if they were to stay up.
Brad Collins picked up two clean sheets from his last five games, and made an incredible save to deny Billy Kee in their 5-2 comeback win against Accrington Stanley. He did, however, also concede a penalty in the same match.
75. WHAT A SAVE, BRAD COLLINS! Kee looks set to restore Stanley's lead with a plum header - but Brad tips it over one-handed. Brilliant.— Burton Albion FC (@burtonalbionfc) March 23, 2019
Match Centre https://t.co/uel4Zq5aP4 #BAFC pic.twitter.com/6R8KQRtSVC
Collins has consistently made good saves for the Brewers and will hope to continue on his path of ascension up the EFL next season. Here are a few words from him on his loan experience this season.
“It’s great for me, players who have played at a high level the likes of Jake Buxton and Kyle McFadzean who have made over 500 professional appearances between them.
“I’ve come in and learn a lot from them every day. It’s just great to have them in front of me and the trust we have in each other is great.
“The amount of appearances they’ve got between them, they’re very experienced defenders. I have full trusts in them, and it shows in the clean sheets we keep getting.”
“Lucas (Akins), everyone says he is the nicest lad in football and what a terrific guy. I am buzzing for him to get on the scoresheet and I hope he keeps doing it, because he deserves it. He puts 110% every day and gets the rewards there.
“As soon as I came in, straight away you can just tell. He’s a real gentleman. We are lucky to have him.”
- Bradley Collins; source: Burton Albion FC
Nathan Baxter and Josh Grant, the latter now back from injury, have been among the minutes at struggling Yeovil Town. Conceding eight goals and scoring none in their last four games, Yeovil are now in real danger of relegation from League Two. They’ve sacked Darren Way from his managerial position and are yet to finalise a replacement.
On the other hand, Cheltenham Town, who appeared to be mired in the relegation battle for a large part of the season, have elevated themselves into mid-table territory thanks to the renaissance of veteran striker, Luke Varney. Jacob Maddox has unfortunately had a bit-part role lately, last starting a game on March 2. You can read a lengthy interview from Maddox on the Cheltenham Town website, where he discusses the influence of manager Michael Duff, moving out of home at a young age and wanting to be a leader on the pitch, among other things.
Karlo Ziger still hasn’t added to his one appearance for Sutton United, but Jack Wakely has been playing regularly for Basingstoke Town. Meanwhile, another young goalkeeper, Ethan Wady, has joined Isthmian League side, Tooting and Mitcham FC on loan until the end of the season. He made his debut last weekend, in a 2-1 loss to Cheshunt.
Ola Aina played 21 minutes in Torino’s 1-2 win against Frosinone and picked up an assist for the winning goal, using his head to lay the ball off to Andrea Belotti, who finished with aplomb.
He then started their 2-3 loss against Bologna and managed to get himself sent off in injury time. He was booked for a tactical foul as Torino were chasing an equaliser, then immediately received a second yellow for dissent towards the referee and was given his marching orders.
Tiemoue Bakayoko has continued to start most games for AC Milan and even scored in the Milan derby, which Inter ultimately won 2-3.
Lucas Piazon has spent all of Chievo’s recent games on the bench.
After scoring Atalanta’s second goal in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia semi-final, Mario Pasalic has had 13-, 17- and 18-minute appearances from the bench.
Alvaro Morata took his goal tally for Atletico Madrid up to 3 with a double against Real Betis. In his two appearances after, against Juventus and Bilbao, he had a combined xG of 0.51
Kenneth Omeruo and Leganes kept a clean sheet as they prevailed over Levante to begin the month, but then went on to lose to Atletico Madrid and Girona.
Josimar Quintero has played just over 100 minutes for Lleida Esportiu in three games, starting one of them.
Victorien Angban had one start and sub appearance apiece for FC Metz, who look closer to winning Ligue 2 by the week, in which case Angban’s loan would be made permanent.
Baba Rahman started twice for Reims, in a 1-1 draw against Dijon and a 1-0 win over Nantes. Since making his debut for Reims against Toulouse, Baba has started all but one of their matches.
Jake Clarke-Salter has not played for Vitesse since March 3 due to an injury but a call-up to the England Under-21 team presumably means he should be back in action after the international break. Eduardo has been starting as per usual. Vitesse have drawn (to Feyenoord), lost (to Heracles) and won (against NAC Breda) in March. They still sit 5th, level on points with Utrecht, one ahead of Heracles and 7 behind both Feyenoord and AZ Alkmaar.
Fankaty Dabo registered 288 minutes of playing time and an assist against Almere City, for Sparta Rotterdam, who trail Eerste Divisie leaders FC Twente by 11 points.
Kylian Hazard hasn’t played for Cercle Brugge since making a 22-minute cameo against Kortrijk on March 3. He hasn’t been among the match-day squads either, so one can only assume he’s injured.
Victor Moses has had a productive three games for Fenerbahce, picking up a goal and an assist in 269 minutes.
Christian Pulisic played 90 minutes against Hertha Berlin before the international break, but it was his 11-minute cameo against VfB Stuttgart that was more memorable; Pulisic replaced Raphael Guerreiro in the 79th minute and assisted Paco Alcacer five minutes later. Then, in the third minute of injury time he found the back of the net to seal Dortmun’s 3-1 win.
Nathan started scored for Atletico Mineiro to help them to a 1-2 win against Tupynambas, then made substitute appearances against CAP and Cerro Porteno.
Danilo Pantic was eased back from injury with two substitute appearances, only to be taken off due to another knock after 40 minutes on his first start since the winter break.