Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray)
Onyekuru was moved into a free role in attacking midfield for Gala’s game against Medipol Başakşehir and roamed the field, getting on the ball more than last week but still only making twelve passes in the 90 minutes. He did manage five successful dribbles, though, and won nine of his 13 duels. He’s still being experimented with by manager Fatih Terim, who sees his talent but is discovering where best to use it.
The Nigerian was rested for the midweek cup game against Keçiörengücü, and watched the 1-1 from the bench as Terim fielded a much-changed side.
Nikola Vlasic (CSKA Moscow)
CSKA Moscow began a three-month winter break this week, with temperatures over in Russia being too cold for football over these months. One fixture between Yenisey and Akhmat Grozny was played at minus 25 degrees celcius at the beginning of December, so hopefully Vlasic will keep fit but enjoy his Christmas inside in the warm. January recall? Probably not.
Kevin Mirallas (Fiorentina)
Mirallas is finding some form up front for Fiorentina, and bagged his second goal in as many performances last week in the 3-1 win over Empoli. It’s good to see his career back on track, but he probably won’t be coming back here.
Sandro Ramirez (Real Sociedad)
Sandro started on the right of attacking midfield for the 1-0 defeat to Getafe, and was brought off after 69 minutes in an unfruitful performance in which he often stayed out very wide. None of his six crosses nor his three dribble attempts were successful, but he won five of his 11 duels.
Matthew Pennington (Ipswich Town)
Pennington put in another solid performance in keeping a clean sheet for the 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic, making five clearances and four interceptions as well as often coming over to cover his right-back. There has been progress in recent weeks for the young man at centre-back.
Luke Garbutt (Oxford United)
Garbutt was left on the bench again for the 2-0 win over Blackpool, but got his chance in the Football League Trophy game against Tottenham Hotspur Under-21s. He took it with an assist for the second goal of a 3-0 victory, and staked his claim for a place in Karl Robinson’s side.
Antonee Robinson and Callum Connolly (Wigan Athletic)
Connolly covered for his injured mate Robinson at left-back for the 1-0 defeat to Ipswich, and was positive in his new Wigan role, where he has experience playing in the past from his Everton days so far. He put himself about well and won 12 of 20 duels, as well as making three clearances.
Ashley Williams and Cuco Martina (Stoke City)
Martina wasn’t given any respite by his parent club teammate Yannick Bolasie for the 2-2 draw against Aston Villa, but did well in the defensive battle as well as getting forward himself at any opportunity possible. He made four clearances, blocked a shot, made an interception, and put five crosses in the mixer.
Williams was solid again alongside Ryan Shawcross, but wasn’t able to prevent the two goals. He does love throwing himself about, and got on the ball as well, making 30 passes as well as his four clearances and two interceptions.
Muhamed Besic (Middlesbrough)
Besic was suspended for the 2-1 defeat to Queens Park Rangers after receiving a red card last week, but returned for the EFL Cup game against Burton Albion. Boro lost the game 1-0, and Besic was replaced after an hour after he was beaten to the ball at close-range for the only goal of the game. He did make 50 passes during that hour though with a 90% success rate, and completed six of his eight long balls, two of which were beautiful balls over the top of Burton’s defence.
Yannick Bolasie (Aston Villa)
Bolasie ran at Cuco all night, finding some luck, but missing a good chance early on in the second half. He made up for it, though, setting up Jonathan Kodjia’s goal in the 2-2 draw.
Joe Williams (Bolton Wanderers)
Williams found it more difficult in a sitting midfield role against Leeds, with his team required to sit back against high-flyers Leeds, but that’s not his style. He looked to run around a bit more in midfield, but was caught out a couple of times. Bolton lost the game 1-0.