Eredivisie week 8 preview: Derbies, spicy fixtures and Eagles flying towards Amsterdam
Week eight in the Eredivisie kicks-off with the highest profile game of the weekend. PSV are looking to maintain their lead at the top of the league after they took up the pole position with last weekend’s 4-0 thrashing of Ajax in Eindhoven. AZ, still looking to recover from that terrible 2012-13 season, have had a decent start, but have a tough test ahead of them as they look to dismantle Cocu’s strong and overall superior side. However, it won’t be easy for the visitors. The Alkmaar club have recovered from last week’s 3-0 defeat to NAC by thrashing Sparta 4-1 (albeit after extra-time) in the KNVB Beker, with star striker Aron Johannsson scoring a hat-trick. The striker, along with Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Roy Beerens and Nemanja Gudelj, will be difficult for PSV’s defence to mark. Furthermore, the central defensive partnership of Jan Wuytens and Jeffrey Gouweleeuw is developing very well thus far and the understanding between the two is improving, while Mattias Johansson and Nick Viergever are capable full backs, the former adding plenty in attack, the latter more stable defensively, adding a certain balance to the backline. PSV, though, are a fantastic team and Cocu has made Park Ji-Sung and Stijn Schaars important first-team players to even out the youth with experience. While Ola Toivonen will remain in the starting XI, 20-year-old Adam Maher is looking to return to the first-team to face his former side, as is 17-year-old starlet Zakaria Bakkali, while Jurgen Locadia has made a statement with his hat-trick in midweek against Telstar.
While the match in Alkmaar is of the highest profile, there are also two local derbies being played on Sunday. First, NEC host Vitesse in the De Gelderse Derby, which, when these two teams met in Arnhem last season, resulted in Vitesse fans throwing cups of urine at those of their rivals. No such antics are to be expected in Nijmegen this time, but it will be a fairly tense affair. NEC are still winless after seven games but have drawn each of their last four matches. The Nijmegen team have been unable to hold onto a lead to see out a victory so far this season, but they are improving since the appointment of Anton Janssen. New signing Samuel Stefanik has had an immediate impact, while Victor Palsson’s importance to the team is increasing. However, they are without striker Michael Higdon who is injured. Vitesse are developing smoothly under coach Peter Bosz. A single defeat from their first six games is a decent start for the Arnhem team. While Mike Havenaar hasn’t replaced the goals of Wilfried Bony, his linkup play with those around him sees the goals spread evenly throughout the team. Bosz’s team will be the more confident heading into this game and they should be able to see it out, but the improving NEC will make it difficult and would love to get their first victory of the season over their rivals.
Sunday’s other derby is the De derby van Friesland between Heerenveen and Cambuur. Of course the man to look out for in this game is Heerenveen’s star striker Alfred Finnbogason, who has scored nine goals in six games so far this season (11 in seven if you count the two in the Cup game against Twente on Thursday). A great amount of the chances Heerenveen create goes through the Iceland international. With three assists added to his scoring record means he has played a definitive part in 63% of his team’s goals in the league. He is the man Cambuur have to deal with if they are to have any chance of containing their opponents. The newly-promoted team’s record so far suggests that they may be one of the few teams who can actually do so. With the joint best defensive record in the league, Cambuur have conceded only five goals this season, but that they also have the joint worst attack means they have been involved in three goalless draws already this year. It has been a bright start to life in the top flight for Cambuur and that their strong defence is set to take on the most efficient attack in the league so far will make for an interesting encounter.
Elsewhere, Ajax are looking to recover from the humiliation of the 4-0 hammering at the hands of PSV, which followed the 4-0 defeat to Barcelona. Frank de Boer’s side host Eredivisie new boys Go Ahead Eagles in Amsterdam on Saturday as they look to prevent Cocu’s men from getting too far ahead. Interestingly, we will see a change in goalkeeper for the reigning Eredivisie champions. Jasper Cillessen will be between the sticks as he replaces the exiled Kenneth Vermeer, who has been heavily criticised for the blunder which lead to the opening goal last week. It should be a rather exciting clash between these two sides. Ajax have, on paper, a generally threatening team, but they have been toothless since the sale of Christian Eriksen. With a front three of Bojan, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Viktor Fischer, they could create a lot of trouble for the GAE back line and there could even be a surprise inclusion of Danish wonderkid Lucas Andersen, who impressed against Volendam in the Cup this week. However, the same goes for the attacking trio of the visitors, whose speed, power and skill will put the unsettled Ajax defence under pressure when they move forward.
Looking to remain within two points of the new league leaders is PEC Zwolle, who were removed from pole position last week following their defeat to Vitesse. Ron Jans’ charges welcome to the IJsseldelta Stadion a NAC Breda who have recovered from a disastrous start to the campaign with two successive victories. Zwolle, on the other hand, are on a bit of a slide. An explosive opening weeks for the blue and white hoops propelled them to the top of the table, but defeats to Ajax and then Vitesse saw them drop to second place. To show that the Indian Summer isn’t over, three points over Nebojsa Gudelj’s men will see them at least remain in second place.
Very promising starts to the new term for both Twente and Groningen makes for an enticing clash between the sides on Sunday. Twente, with a very young but exciting team, sit in third place, while Groningen are only one point behind. Groningen’s defence has been stretched to easily at times this year, which is something Twente will look to exploit. Twente are without Wout Brama and Quincy Promes, while Timo Letschert and Rasmus Lindgren are absent for Groningen.
Elsewhere, Feyenoord are looking to continue their good run of ten points from their last four games when they meet second-bottom side ADO Den Haag. Utrecht play host to Roda JC and RKC welcome Heracles to Waalwijk – two fixtures between four teams in poor form at this stage in the season.