Mamadou Sakho continued his blistering start at Crystal Palace and Andre Wisdom was in fine form on an otherwise unrewarding week for Liverpool’s loanees.
Sakho followed a shining debut with another near-perfect outing which helped the Eagles to a second straight win and clean sheet with a 2-0 victory at West Brom.
Good win today ????? @CPFC #SakhoFamilly pic.twitter.com/Q1kU2I6szw
— Mamadou Sakho (@mamadousakho) March 4, 2017
The centre-back led by example at the heart of the backline, showing a composure and aggression that has solidified and dramatically transformed Sam Allardyce’s defence.
Sakho’s relentless desire for victory was summed up by a rampaging piece of play which saw him tackle everything and everyone in front of him – including refusing to stop at the referee.
I think Sakho tackling the referee is already one of my favourite ever Palace moments. ? pic.twitter.com/ic5a9jAoXH
— Jim Daly (@jimdalycomedy) March 6, 2017
The Frenchman’s whole-hearted display earned praise from just about everyone watching, and he was voted man-of-the-match by the Palace faithful, who are, unsurprisingly, delighted by his early success.
Wisdom was the big positive of the European loanees, with the defender helping Red Bull Salzburg to a 1-0 win over Rapid Vienna – a victory which moved his side six points clear at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga.
Returning to the starting XI at centre-back, Wisdom completed the full game and was in solid form – turning in a reliable and concentrated performance as he was forced to defend under pressure for periods.
The win marked a third in as many starts for Wisdom, and he will hope his dependable showings earn him a more consistent place as his side charge for the title.
In the Championship, there was injury concern for Danny Ward, who’s only outing this week – against league leaders, Newcastle – ended after just 45 minutes.
The Welshman conceded two goals he could do little about in a first-half in which his team went in at the break 2-0 down, when an injury – reportedly to his thigh – forced him off at half-time.
Ward, who sat out Huddersfield’s midweek FA Cup loss to Man City, will hope it proves nothing too serious as his side reach a crucial stage in their bid for promotion to the Premier League.
Back in the top-flight, Lazar Markovic returned from injury to feature for Hull City, while Jon Flanagan was predictably an unused substitute at Burnley.
However, it wasn’t quite as successful a weekend as Sakho’s for the Serbian, who played 78 minutes of a damaging 3-1 loss to Leicester.
Operating from the right-side of attack, Markovic posted a disappointing performance, failing to use his pace and direct dribbling to the effect he has managed to in recent weeks.
Markovic’s muted outing earned criticism from local media who questioned his work-rate, and this combined with his recent injury return contributed to his withdrawal on what the Hull Daily Mail labelled his “worst league game in Hull City colours”.
Back in the second tier, Ryan Kent also endured an unrewarding weekend, playing only the final 15 minutes of Barnsley’s 2-1 loss to Derby.
Kent started the defeat on the bench – a likely consequence of his quiet recent form – and entered with the score at 1-1, but within a minute of coming on Barnsley conceded what proved to be a killer second goal.
Though with little time to make an impact, it was set for Kent to revive his side – and he so nearly did in a bright cameo despite the instant set-back, with his half-volley superbly kept out by former Reds’ stopper Scott Carson in injury time.
There was disappointment for the rest of Liverpool’s Europe based loanees, with Pedro Chirivella the only other Red to enjoy match action as he played all of a 2-2 draw against Heerenveen.
The Spaniard endured one of his quieter games for the Eredivisie side, but he still played an important role from his play-making position – recycling possession and starting attacking moves throughout.
Elsewhere on the continent, Taiwo Awoniyi was uninvolved for NEC Nijmegen this week, and though Allan Rodrigues returned to matchday involvement at Hertha Berlin, this only came as an unused substitute.
Cameron Brannagan was the only of the Reds’ lower league quartet to play, with the midfielder featuring in Fleetwood’s 2-0 win over fellow promotion chasers, Scunthorpe.
Entering for the final 20 minutes at 1-0 up, Brannagan produced an accomplished display in the centre of a five-man midfield, using his ball retention and tactical intelligence to help his side manage the game and nick a match-sealing late goal.
What a big win that was class from all the lads ! And the fans where top !! ??
— Cameron Brannagan (@Cameron246bran) March 4, 2017
A hamstring injury kept Lloyd Jones out of two Swindon games this week, including what should have been a clash of the loanees with Ryan Fulton’s Chesterfield on Saturday – a game which saw the young ‘keeper return to involvement but watch from the bench.
Frustratingly, Fulton is likely to spend the remainder of the season among the substitutes, with boss Gary Caldwell having carried out his intentions to sign an experienced goalkeeper for the relegation battle his side face.
Can't wait to be back on a pitch ???? pic.twitter.com/sBoCVukf16
— Jack Dunn ??? (@Jack_Dunn8) February 27, 2017
Jack Dunn missed two more games for Tranmere this week, and there is disappointing news as the young striker is expected to be out of action for around four to five weeks with a hamstring injury.
It’s a real frustrating blow for Dunn, who had made a bright start following his January move to Prenton Park, and his return to match action cannot come soon enough.
Liverpool’s Loanees This Week
- Sakho – Crystal Palace – Played 90mins, earning fans’ MOM vs. West Brom
- Markovic – Hull – Played 78mins vs. Leicester
- Flanagan – Burnley – Unused sub vs. Swansea
- Ward – Huddersfield – Unused sub vs. Man City & played 45mins vs. Newcastle due to injury
- Kent – Barnsley – Played 15mins vs. Derby
- Chirivella – Go Ahead Eagles – Played 90mins vs. Heerenveen
- Wisdom – Salzburg – Played 90mins, posting clean sheet vs. Rapid Vienna
- Awoniyi – NEC Nijmegen – Left out of matchday squad vs. Heracles
- Allan – Hertha Berlin – Unused sub vs. Hamburg
- Brannagan – Fleetwood – Played 20mins vs. Scunthorpe
- Fulton – Chesterfield – Unused sub vs. Swindon
- Jones – Swindon – Missed game vs. Gillingham due to injury & unused sub vs. Chesterfield
- Dunn – Tranmere – N/A due to hamstring injury