Although the festive football schedule in England has been heavily disrupted by Covid-enforced postponements up and down the country, and many European leagues are on hold for their winter break, there has still been match action for some of our loanees which we summarise here…
Armando Broja earned Southampton a penalty in their entertaining 3-2 win at West Ham, bursting past Craig Dawson who could then only bring him down in the box (pictured top). James Ward-Prowse converted the spot-kick, awarded after a pitchside VAR check, and although the Hammers equalised soon after Southampton grabbed a winner.
The striker came off the bench with 20 minutes remaining as the Saints hosted Tottenham Hotspur two days later. He couldn’t find a winner, but he did help Southampton hold on for a hard-fought 1-1 draw, despite playing more than half the game with 10 men.
It was a difficult Boxing Day for two of our midfielders spending the season elsewhere in the Premier League. At Carrow Road, Gilmour played throughout as Norwich were dismantled 5-0 by Arsenal, although the Scot did record a game-high four tackles, and nobody in yellow spent more time in possession than him.
In north London, Gallagher started for Crystal Palace as they lost 3-0 at Tottenham, a first-half red card shown to Wilfried Zaha not helping the Eagles’ cause. Gallagher came off with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining due to an injury that also denied him the chance to face Gilmour and Norwich on Tuesday.
It was another difficult day for the Canaries, who have been severely depleted by Covid and injuries, as they were beaten 3-0 at Selhurst Park. All three goals arrived in the first half as Norwich suffered their fifth consecutive defeat, all without scoring.
In the Championship, Dujon Sterling came on for Blackpool shortly after they had been reduced to 10 men at Huddersfield on Boxing Day. Leading 2-1, they could not survive and conceded twice late on to lose 3-2.
He played the full 90 minutes when they hosted Middlesbrough three days later. It looked like Blackpool had secured a memorable draw when they equalised in the first minute of injury time, only to concede again in the 93rd minute to lose 2-1.
Levi Colwill missed the Blackpool game through illness but was back in the Huddersfield defence on Thursday evening as they secured an impressive 1-0 win at in-form Nottingham Forest. Colwill was named man of the match as he played a key role in the Terriers' rearguard action.
Ian Maatsen was also in action for Coventry City in a severely reduced schedule for England’s second tier, as they hosted Millwall, while Jake Clarke-Salter was on the bench for the first time since suffering an injury at the start of November.
Despite a strong performance, especially in the first half, the Sky Blues went behind with 10 minutes left. Maatsen had the chance to equalise almost immediately, but fired over the bar after being found at the back post as Coventry succumbed to a 1-0 loss.
Michy Batshuayi and Besiktas suffered a late 1-0 defeat in the Turkish Super Lig. A frustrating trip to second-placed Konyaspor remained goalless until the home side found an injury-time winner, leaving Besiktas four points adrift of the European qualification places at the halfway mark in their season.
In Slovenia, Karlo Ziger kept a clean sheet for Rudar Velenje as they recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory away at Beltinci, a result which moves them up to seventh in the table, going ahead of their opponents on goal difference.