Winding down the home stretch now with matches few and far between, but this weekend has seen a couple of notable prospects take part in title celebrations, even if they didn’t claim medals themselves.
Daniel Welbeck and Federico Macheda haven’t taken part in enough league fixtures to win themselves a medal, but were on the field as United lifted their eleventh Premier League crown and their eighteenth of all-time. Macheda scored two crucial goals during the run-in, including a dramatic last-gasp winner at home to Aston Villa which gave them the momentum to press on at the most tense of times. Neither of them were on the field during their goalless draw with Arsenal, however.
The duo had featured earlier in the week during the Manchester Senior Cup Final, where United retained their trophy in a 1-0 win over Bolton at the Reebok Stadium. An early deflected effort from Zoran Tosic handed the Red Devils the trophy, and the young strikers were joined by Rodrigo Possebon, Matthew James (in an unfamiliar right-back role) and Ben Amos in their celebrations.
The end of the football league season has seen loanees return to their senior team, and on Wednesday of last week Chelsea met Manchester City behind closed doors at Stamford Bridge in a friendly which featured Miroslav Stoch, Jeffrey Bruma, Patrick van Aanholt, Vladimir Weiss, Kieran Tripper, Ben Mee and Robbie Mak. It was Weiss who starred in a 3-2 win for the visitors, earning an early penalty for his team to equalise a Scott Sinclair goal, before adding a second equaliser still in the first half with a magnificent mazy run and finish past Hilário. On a side note, van Aanholt then signed a three-year extension to his current deal at Stamford Bridge, keeping him there until 2012.
Returning youngsters has also benefitted Tottenham, who beat Sunderland to progress to the Premier Academy League Final, where they played fierce rivals Arsenal on Sunday. Dean Parrett and Jonathan Obika overcame a strong Black Cats effort to win 2-1 with a winner from Andros Townsend, set up by Obika, with the duo having played temporarily at Yeovil together. It wasn’t to end well for Spurs though, falling 1-0 in Sunday’s Final to a Rhys Murphy goal, a game which is covered elsewhere on this site. Arsenal’s loanee Henri Lansbury returned from Scunthorpe to feature in the match.
Back in the Premier League, and Jack Rodwell was back on Everton’s bench after 90 minutes against Tottenham last week. He got 21 minutes in relief of Marouane Fellaini, but Jose Baxter was this time unavailable to join him, having been on international duty in the European Under-17 Championships. He was suspended from Monday’s tournament elimination against Turkey, a game which cost England a place in the Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria later this year. Jack Wilshere was also missing injured, whilst John Bostock once more captained the team in a losing effort.
Finally, and it all counts, Middlesbrough’s Reserves gave the Teesiders some small joy in a season where not much has gone their way by beating Stokesley in the North Riding Senior Cup Final. Captain Richie Smallwood lifted the trophy after a good outing in defence, and goalkeeper Jason Steele kept his clean sheet in beating away a last minute penalty kick.