Despite some leagues pausing for a brief winter break, many are continuing without interruption, including in Italy’s Serie A where Tiemoue Bakayoko and Napoli’s rise to fourth headlines the latest round-up of our players out on loan…
In France, Belgium and the Netherlands, even in this convoluted campaign, they have found time for a momentary pause in proceedings, while league action in Russia and Serbia does not resume until February. However, across the rest of Europe and throughout England’s professional pyramid, there is no respite as the games continue to stack up thick and fast.
Napoli recorded their first win in four games with a 4-1 victory at Cagliari in which Bakayoko featured for all but the final few minutes. It was a result that took Gennaro Gattuso’s side into the Champions League qualification places in Serie A, although the Neapolitans were helped by playing the final 25 minutes with an additional man.
Bakayoko, operating as one of two holding midfielders, was involved in the crucial third goal for his side, winning a header in the box before Hirving Lozano finished from close range. They could go third if they win their game in hand.
Elsewhere in Italy, David Zappacosta started his first game since a heavy defeat at Napoli in late September as Genoa drew 1-1 against Lazio.
Piazon returns and Baker's Turks climb
Granada started 2021 with a defeat in La Liga, going down 2-0 away at Eibar. Kenedy played three-quarters of the game in a wide left attacking role as the Spaniards missed the chance to keep up the pressure on the European contenders.
In Portugal, Lucas Piazon featured for the first time since the end of November as Rio Ave were beaten 2-0 at Ferreira. The 26-year-old came on for the final six minutes following a long spell on the sidelines.
Lewis Baker started for Trabzonspor for the ninth game in a row as they won 2-1 away at Karagumruk in the Turkish top flight. After languishing near the relegation zone earlier in the campaign, Trabzonspor are now up to seventh after winning three of their last four games.
Guehi pushing for promotion
For Ethan Ampadu and Conor Gallagher, there was more frustration at the foot of the Premier League table. The latter played throughout as West Bromwich Albion lost 4-0 at home to Arsenal in the snow, while Ampadu started at centre-back as Sheffield United were beaten 2-0 at Crystal Palace.
The two sides are six and 12 points from safety respectively as we approach the midway point of the league campaign.
In the Championship, Swansea City recorded another big win to solidify their position in the top two against fellow promotion hopefuls Watford. Steve Cooper’s side won 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium, with former Blue Nathaniel Chalobah in action for the Hornets, to stay four points behind league leaders Norwich City.
Elsewhere in the English second tier, Jake Clarke-Salter played 90 minutes as Birmingham City lost 2-0 at home to Blackburn Rovers.
Luke McCormick has earned himself a regular place in the Bristol Rovers midfield as the Gas enjoy a good run of form in League One. Their latest victory came at home to Blackpool, with the 21-year-old midfielder involved throughout as the team edged further away from trouble with three points.
Young goalkeeper Teddy Sharman-Lowe has been recalled from his loan at Burton Albion.