Posted on: Wed 24 Oct 2012

Just over two months into the 2012/13 season, we check once again the progress of those Blues currently testing themselves elsewhere...

Romelu Lukaku
has enjoyed significant time on the pitch in a West Bromwich Albion team enjoying a good start to the season. The Belgian striker scored the only goal of the game in last month's win over Reading - his second for the club - and while he has only managed to start one league game, he has consistently come off the bench in the latter stages of matches to have an impact, and he continues to improve under the guidance of former Chelsea man Steve Clarke.

His fellow countrman, Kevin De Bruyne [pictured below], has played a prominent role in Werder Bremen's opening to the campaign, starting all eight league games on the left of midfield, while also chipping in with a credible three goals. The weekend's 4-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach saw the youngster walk away with the man of the match award in a display which had the German media eulogising about the 21-year-old. He also scored his first international goal this month.

Kevin de Bruyne in action for Werder Bremen

Yossi Benayoun made his first start for West Ham United in Saturday's 4-1 win over Southampton at Upton Park. The Israeli played the full 90 minutes, capping a solid display by teeing up Modibo Maiga for the final goal. He'd made the first appearance of his second spell with the club as a substitute in the goalless draw away at Norwich City last month.

Michael Essien [below] has been used sparingly by Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, but the Ghanaian midfielder played the full 90 minutes in last weekend's 2-0 home win over Celta Vigo. He also started in the 3-2 Champions League win against Manchester City, while coming on as a late substitute for Angel Di Maria in the recent 2-2 draw with Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

Michael Essien playing for Real Madrid

Staying in Spain, Thibaut Courtois, who finished last season with a Europa League winners' medal, is once again performing regularly and consistently for Atletico Madrid who have made an excellent start to the campaign. Currently level on points with table-toppers Barcelona, Atletico are eight points clear of their more illustrious neighbours Real Madrid, with Courtois keeping three clean sheets from their opening eight games.

Since moving to the Riverside Stadium back in August, Josh McEachran has started every league game for Tony Mowbray's Middlesbrough, and while his passing ability and ball retention has never been in question, the defensive side of his game appears to be improving as he continues to play regular first team football.

Elsewhere in the Championship, Nathaniel Chalobah has flourished since linking up with Stamford Bridge legend Gianfranco Zola at Watford. The 17-year-old midfielder began his time at Vicarage Road on the bench, but has since become a regular starter following a string of impressive displays, although he was shown a red card having collected two yellows in their most recent game, a 2-1 defeat at Cardiff on Tuesday night.

Sam Hutchinson's spell at Nottingham Forest got off to a decent start, and the young right-back netted what proved to be the winner at the end of a flowing move against Charlton [below]. However, just as the 23-year-old appeared to have made the position his own, he was struck down with injury and is currently out of action.

Sam Hutchinson scores for Nottingham Forest

Ben Gordon
, meanwhile, currently on-loan at Birmingham City, has made just one start for Lee Clark's men, the 2-0 opening-day defeat at Watford.

Vitesse Arnhem have made a decent start to the campaign and are currently third in Holland. Tomas Kalas has continued where he left off at the end of last season and is a regular at the heart of the defence, having started all nine league games thus far, as well as scoring his first goal for the club in a 3-0 win at FC Groningen.

Patrick van Aanholt, also on-loan at Vitesse, has followed suit and is impressing again in his home country, missing only one game so far this season, although our third player on-loan at the club, Gael Kakuta, is yet to feature.

Amin Affane, who was part of last season's FA Youth Cup-winning squad, scored his first goal for Roda JC in the Dutch Eredivisie at the end of September. The right-sided attacker has been used most often as an impact substitute but has started two games, against Utrecht and AZ Alkmaar.

Dutch defender Jeffrey Bruma was a second-half substitute for Hamburg in their 1-0 weekend win at SpVgg Greuther Firth, replacing Rafael van der Vaart in the closing stages, his fourth appearance of the season.

Thorgan Hazard, younger brother of Eden, made his first appearance for Zulte Waregem, who are based in his native Belgium, in their 1-0 win at Oud-Heverlee Leuven, and has held down a regular place since.

Bristol Rovers may be struggling in League Two, but goalkeeper Sam Walker, on-loan at the Memorial Stadium until January, has firmly established himself as first-choice, starting six matches so far this season.

In Portugal, both Milan Lalkovic and Matej Delac are currently on-loan at Vitoria Guimaraes. Lalkovic has appeared five times from the substitutes' bench, most recently in the 2-0 home defeat against SC Braga, while goalkeeper Delac played his first game at the weekend in a 6-1 thumping of Vilaverdense in the Portuguese Cup.