Eredivisie Week 10 Preview: Five Things We Expect/ Hope To See
PEC Zwolle to get back to winning ways – Peter McVitie
After surprisingly leaping to the top of the table in the early stages of the season with an impressive four wins from their first four fixtures, PEC Zwolle have since deterred and slipped down the table. Defeats to Ajax and Vitesse and draws with Utrecht, NAC and Roda leave Ron Jans’ side in sixth place. Scoring just two goals in their last five games, one of which was against nine-man Roda, we’re beginning to worry they might have taken lessons from “Team 0-0” a.k.a SC Cambuur. Luckily for Zwolle, though, the inconsistency of the giants ahead of them has allowed the Blauwvingers to stay within touching distance as only three points separates them from Twente and PSV. To prevent them from drifting further behind, though, Zwolle will be looking to pick up all three points from this weekend’s match against ADO Den Haag. Maurice Steijn’s men have collected just seven points from their opening nine games, winning just one match on the road so far this season, while Zwolle have won 11 of their last 12 home games in the league. Also, although Zwolle are missing goalkeeper Diederik Boer and midfielder Jesper Drost, ADO are without important first-team players Mitchell Schet, Vito Wormgoor and Kevin Jansen, so Zwolle will be confident that they can get back to winning ways this Sunday.
Dusan Tadic to be the player Ajax are clearly lacking – Michiel Jongsma
The first game on Dutch soil for Dusan Tadic was against Ajax. In a thrilling affair, FC Groningen pulled back from two behind to make it 2-2. Standout performer was the Serb, who turned World Cup finalist Gregory van der Wiel inside out. Six months later, Ajax handed a debut to their own creative fulcrum for the years to come in Christian Eriksen. The rest is history. Three titles in a row, with Eriksen being the diamond in the crown.
But since early September, that diamond has been taken by Tottenham Hotspur and with the departure of Toby Alderweireld in defence, Ajax look fairly ordinary at the moment. And there have been sounds and questions at why Ajax haven’t taken a punt at Dusan Tadic to fill that creative void. The Serb meanwhile has moved on and plays for FC Twente now. ‘In order to compete for the title’, was his motivation back in 2012. After a year of misery, it appears that is exactly what he is going to do. FC Twente look a very strong side and create more than any other team, while conceding less. With FC Twente top and hosting Ajax this weekend, the Enschedeërs will feel confident of being able to get a result.
Not in the least because they have Tadic and Ajax don’t. No player has given more assists in the league than Tadic since he arrived and he’ll be looking to add to that tally against the reigning champions.
Finnbogason to maintain his excellent goalscoring record – Peter McVitie
With ten goals in seven Eredivisie appearances for Heerenveen this season (12 in eight in all competitions), we are quickly becoming suspicious about Alfred Finnbogason. So devastating is his form and his performances, we have developed our own theory that Marco van Basten has replaced his star striker from last season with an even more efficient and indestructible cyborg, leaving the human version chained up somewhere, hidden from public view to prevent this sporting abomination and injustice from being exposed.
The only other possible explanation for such an exceptional goalscoring record is that Finnbogason has developed into an even better player than he was last season (24 goals in 31 games).
The Iceland international has scored in every single game in which he has played for De Superfriezen this season, kicking the campaign off with two goals and two assists in the 4-2 thrashing of AZ. Since then he has scored against the likes of Ajax, Twente, Groningen (two in each game) and even smashed one past local rivals Cambuur to secure all three points for his side in a 2-1 win.
On Saturday evening, Finnbogason and Heerenveen line up against Vitesse, against whom the striker has scored three times in the two games he has played. If he can do what he does best and puts another past Piet Velthuizen, he will have scored a goal in an incredible ten straight club games. A remarkable record for any striker.
Heerenveen are only three points behind league leaders Twente and PSV, so a goal from Finnbogason and a win for the blue and whites will see them maintain the pressure on the giants of the league.
Locadia and Zivkovic battling for the tag of ‘Eredivisie’s supersub’ – Michiel Jongsma
Last season, Jurgen Locadia often came off the bench to make a difference for PSV. No player scored more (7) coming on as a sub than the striker from the province of Drenthe. This season, there is another striker from that same region making waves in Eredivisie. At FC Groningen it is Richario Zivkovic who does the business. The young prodigy, who only turned 17 last month, has already scored three goals coming from the bench, including the winner in FC Groningen’s last competitive game versus AZ (2-1).
It’s not very likely that either of the two will start when FC Groningen and PSV go head to head this Sunday. Zivkovic is still waiting for his first starting spot while Locadia has not been impressing as a starter for the Eindhovenaren. But when this will still be a game in the 60th or 70th minute, you can expect both of them warming up, readying themselves to make that difference. Will either of them grab the headlines on Monday?
Dickie to pick up where he left off – Peter McVitie
Dick Advocaat is back in charge of AZ! The 66-year-old, who coached the Alkmaar club for five months in the 2009-10 season, has returned to the AFAS Stadion to take the reigns following the sacking of Gertjan Verbeek.
The former Netherlands and PSV boss enjoyed a successful period in the AZ hotseat when he took over in December 2009. Losing four of his first five games in charge, his team went undefeated for the remainder of the season and climbed to a respectable fifth place.
Advocaat will be hoping he can pick up with that great form right away when he returns to action with his team this Sunday. With AZ already in good form and with a strong, entertaining squad at his disposal, he will fancy his chances of getting off to a winning start when he sends his team out to play Cambuur. Having won only two of their first nine games so far this season, the Leeuwarden side are not the biggest threat to AZ, but they have the joint-second best defensive record in the league and their backline will be hard to break down.
Regardless, however, Advocaat’s team, currently only five points behind league leaders Twente and PSV, will be confident of going out to pick up all three points with a clearly superior team. Markus Henriksen, Roy Beerens and Donny Gorter are all injured, but Advocaat has exemplary players such as Maarten Martens and Celso Ortiz to plug those gaps while Johann Berg Gudmundsson will be looking to continue his rise in prominence.
As he looks to gain ground on the Eredivisie’s leading pack, Advocaat will be desperate to pick up from exactly where he left off the last time he departed AZ.