Ajax sit sixth in the current Eredivisie standings, but what has been going on around the Amsterdam side? Michael Statham takes a closer look at the Dutch top flight and the highs and lows of the current campaign so far.
Title rivals PSV and Feyenoord are the league’s top two, despite getting off to mixed starts. PSV were mauled by Heerenveen (2-0) only four weeks ago, and followed that up with a fortunate and scrappy 1-0 victory over Feyenoord, thanks to a Gastón Pereiro strike. However, since then, form has turned on its head thanks to 7-1 and 4-0 wins over Utrecht and Willem II – two sides Ajax meet in the coming weeks.
?? El gol de Gastón Pereiro que a los 2′ minutos del primer tiempo pone en ventaja al PSV contra Feyenoord pic.twitter.com/D6l82lI2bC
— Brian Wilkinson (@BrianWilkinsonG) 17 september 2017
Gio van Bronckhorst’s men have endured mixed results too. A tepid performance against newly promoted NAC (0-2) lead to defeat in De Kuip and after only four losses all of last season – the champions have already suffered two defeats after seven games.
The rollercoaster start to the season has lead to other teams eyeing the top three. For example, Heerenveen, even in their harsh 0-4 defeat to Ajax, have been refreshing to watch, with Kosovan winger Arber Zeneli key to recent wins.
— Kosovan Football?? (@kosovanfooty) 16 september 2017
Vitesse have been less reliant on Chelsea loanees this year and now have a squad capable of challenging the top of the Eredivisie. Their latest 0-0 draw with Utrecht was disappointing though, especially after the impressive display in Amsterdam previous to that.
Two of Ajax’s next three fixtures are against two of the bottom three. Willem II have struggled to find form in front of goal whilst Sparta Rotterdam toiled to a 1-2 home defeat to Roda – another team currently occupying the relegation play-off places.
Fellow strugglers Twente and ADO both took leaps away from the bottom with three crucial points each. Twente won the derby against Heracles (2-1) – Danny Holla with the winning free-kick, and a Tommy Beugelsdijk strike was enough for a smash and grab at NAC.
De goal van Tom Beugelsdijk tegen NAC! ? pic.twitter.com/bnvFUkVJKU
— ADO Den Haag ? (@ADODenHaag) 1 oktober 2017
VVV were expected to be sitting in the bottom three throughout the season but the newly promoted side’s fine start to the campaign continued with a comfortable 0-2 win at Excelsior. Meanwhile, PEC Zwolle are also secretly climbing up the standings and are now a surprising 4th following a last gasp 3-2 victory over Groningen.
Stand Out Performers
The AZ midfielder perhaps wasn’t expected to be a starter so early in his career after only a handful of appearances last season. However, the tall 19-year-old has been a welcome addition to the Alkmaar midfield going forward and in defence – a flashback to fan favourite Markus Henriksen. Let’s see if Til can continue to improve his importance for AZ as a consistent figure in the side.
Like a duck to water. Mexican winger Hirving Lozano has been a refreshing addition to the Eredivisie. PSV needed a player who could score and provide on a regular basis, particularly after last season’s toils in front of goal. Skills, passion and 6 goals from 6 so far…Dries Mertens, anyone?
— Universal Deportes (@Univ_Deportivo) 24 september 2017
Since Sam Larsson’s departure to Feyenoord, Arber Zeneli has been able to step out of the Swede’s shadow and produce some match winning performances for Heerenveen.