Eredivisie Catch-Up #3

A closer look at the highs and lows of the Eredivisie at the winter break.

Since the last Eredivisie Catch-Up, Ajax remain five points off leaders PSV, 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.

Club Performance

Despite Ajax beating PSV 3-0 and the league leaders drawing 3-3 in Groningen, the Eindhoven side still sit in first place in the Eredivisie. How long will the five-point lead last? It’s hard to say, but Phillip Cocu’s men don’t look like conceding their advantage so quickly, having won the twentieth game at home in a row thanks to a 2-1 victory over Vitesse.

AZ are third and continue to have young players who are shining every week. Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Wout Weghorst and Guus Til have been outstanding this season but it was Fred Friday’s brace that earnt AZ a 3-1 win over Heerenveen which keeps them in the hunt for a top three place.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh

Read – Eredivisie talents ready for Ajax

Surprise package PEC Zwolle sit fourth at the winter break. Despite a 4-0 defeat to ADO Den Haag, John van ‘t Schip’s side can be proud of a fine first half to the season, which has seen them lose only three times and look forward to a quarter-final in the KNVB Beker (Dutch Cup).

Feyenoord have endured a disappointing defence of their Eredivisie crown. The Rotterdammers are down in fifth and they’re out of the Champions League too. However, is the revival on? Three wins and fifteen goals in a week has brought smiles back on faces along with key players returning from injury.

Further down the table, conquerors of Ajax in the cup – Twente – sit sixteenth, but have begun to rise up the table since new boss Gertjan Verbeek took over from the sacked René Hake. Sparta have also fired their manager with Alex Pastoor being replaced by Dick Advocaat, who turned down Swansea in the Premier League to take over in Rotterdam. Another team in trouble are Roda JC, who are bottom after losing their last three matches.

Standout Performers

Bartholomew Ogbeche — The Nigerian striker struck eight goals in only five games as he returned from long-term injury. Ogbeche has formed a partnership with Spanish forward Fran Sol which has terrorised Eredivisie defences in recent weeks. Willem II fans will hope that his incredible poaching abilities will help fire their team up the table in the new year.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh — An Iranian winger whose form for AZ will see him hotting up for the World Cup in the summer. Five goals in his last seven matches has seen attention come from all over Europe as they chase for his signature. Jahanbakhsh is likely to see out the season in Alkmaar though and continue to help AZ charge for a top three place.

Mustafa Saymak — Another midfielder who’s been amongst the goals. Saymak has stood out thanks to his performances in defensive midfield for PEC Zwolle. His form, coupled with fellow midfielders Younes Namli and Ryan Thomas, has made for an incredible season for Zwolle. They’re all very technically gifted and Saymak has been at the hub of everything good for his side recently.