Danny Ward, Huddersfield Town
Huddersfield continued their resurgent form this week, securing two wins to move up to third in the Championship table. Firstly, the Terriers knocked off Burton Albion away from home on Tuesday, with the 1-0 scoreline giving Ward his fifth clean sheet of the season. Ward then made the 50th league start of his young career on Friday night, as the Terriers defeated Norwich City 2-1 at Carrow Road. The Welshman was excellent, making several big saves, and showing an impressive confidence and authority when dealing with crosses as well as excellent distribution, both areas in which Liverpool new boy Loris Karius has been found wanting at times this season. Ward’s 50 league appearances so far have come with Morecambe, Aberdeen, Huddersfield, and two with Liverpool.
Allan Rodrigues de Souza, Hertha Berlin
On Saturday, it was third place Hertha’s turn to take on the story of European football so far this season, traveling to face second place Red Bull Leipzig. Allan Souza made his third league start of the season for Hertha, starting alongside Niklas Stark in centre midfield. Unfortunately, the afternoon would end in disappointment for the Brazilian, with Hertha falling by a 2-0 scoreline and dropping to fourth in the Bundesliga table. Allan played the full 90 minutes.
Taiwo Awoniyi, NEC Nijmegen
Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi continued on the NEC Nijmegen bench this week, as the Eredivisie outfit travelled to take on Excelsior. Awoniyi came on after 65 minutes with NEC down 2-1, helping his side get level courtesy of a 78th minute equalizer from Dario Dumić. The game would finish 2-2. The Eredivisie now heads off on its winter break, with NEC next in action on January 15th, 2017.
Jon Flanagan, Burnley
Jon Flanagan continued to struggle to break into the Burnley first XI this week, as he was twice an unused substitute, first in Burnley’s 1-0 defeat at West Ham and then in the Clarets’ 2-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur.
Ryan Fulton, Chesterfield
Ryan Fulton was ruled out of action this week with an ankle knock, meaning Lloyd Allinson took over as the Chesterfield first-choice for the visit of promotion contenders Bolton Wanderers. The Spireites secured a huge 1-0 win to move out of the relegation zone for the first time since September.
Sam Hart, Port Vale
Port Vale suffered a heavy defeat this week, losing 4-0 at AFC Wimbledon. After a few weeks out of the team, Sam Hart returned to action this week, coming off the bench after 76 minutes with the score at 2-0. Hart will be hoping to get himself back into the starting picture when Walsall visit in Boxing Day action.
Lloyd Jones, Swindon Town
Centre back Lloyd Jones continued to be an important cog in the Swindon back line this week, starting in a back three as the Robins hosted Fleetwood Town. The game finished 1-1, though Swindon will have been disappointed not to get three points. Wins for relegation rivals, including Fulton’s Chesterfield, mean Swindon are now only three points clear of the drop zone, and needing to improve their form when they travel to Millwall on Boxing Day.
Ryan Kent, Barnsley
Winger Ryan Kent continued in the first XI on Tuesday night, with Barnsley on the road to take on Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. Kent was excellent throughout, providing both a threat going forward whilst also putting in a diligent shift defensively, but unfortunately could not prevent the Tykes from falling to a 2-0 defeat.
On Saturday, Barnsley secured a dramatic 4-3 win at Cardiff City, courtesy of a 95th minute winner from Australian Ryan Williams. Kent was taken off after 77 minutes, but again had a great game, consistently offering pace and width on the Barnsley wing and earning an assist on Barnsley’s third goal after he squared the ball to Josh Scowen to score into a gaping goal. Kent will look to continue his good form next week, when Barnsley host Blackburn Rovers.
Lazar Marković, Sporting CP
A hip problem kept Lazar Marković out of action this week. Sporting beat Vitória Setúbal 1-0 away from home in Taça de Portugal action on Wednesday, before losing at home to Braga on Sunday. Marković has not yet been given a return date.
Andre Wisdom, Red Bull Salzburg
After helping Salzburg to two clean sheets last week, Andre Wisdom returned to the starting XI this week, as Red Bull hosted Wolfsberger AC. Salzburg would actually keep their third clean sheet in a row in the game, winning 3-0, with Wisdom playing the full 90 minutes at centre back and earning a yellow card. Unfortunately, just as Wisdom was beginning to find his feet, Salzburg now head off on winter break, with their next Austrian Bundesliga game scheduled for February 11th.
Written by Jake Ware