FC Groningen v AZ Alkmaar
Groningen were poor again as they lost to Sparta two weeks ago. Even though it was a close game only lost in injury time, they did not play much good football. Their goal came from their only piece of decent football, and their goal-scorer – Ricardo Pepi – didn’t do a lot right until his goal.
Groningen fans have certainly been critical of Frank Wormuth in his early tenure as manager, but not a lot has changed since Danny Buijs left, so it is hard to expect much different from a medicore-looking side. They have created the fewest opportunities of any team in the league, and Cyriel Ngonge has now been discarded by Wormuth because of his attitude in training sessions. Wormuth has explained that he wants less “angst” football, and more self-confidence. Sounds like rocky times for the Northern team.
The home side will need to play five in defence again to be tough to break down if they want to get the better of AZ. They like the counter attack as shown by their excellent win over Ajax. They may have played full-backs on the wings, but their tactic worked.
To add to my reasons in favour of another good result for AZ, Jesper Karlsson is expected to return from injury, which will give them a spark in games where the opposition will try to frustrate.
Ajax v Go Ahead Eagles
Ajax players have had two weeks to stew on their poor defeat to AZ. Despite controlling possession and creating a number of opportunities (two of which were cleared off the line), Alfred Schreuder didn’t get the best out of his players. The prime example of this has been Dusan Tadic this season. After some below par performances, Schreuder still hasn’t dropped the captain, who has been played in a relatively uncomfortable right-wing position, and it hasn’t worked against the top sides he has faced so far.
Go Ahead are enjoying the quality of summer signing Oliver Edvardsen, who scored twice in his last game and treated fans to his acrobatic celebrations. From the wide position, he could be somebody who causes a few problems for Ajax, but these are the games that the home side find very comfortable. Bigger tests await.
When Go Ahead played Feyenoord and PSV this season, they conceded four and five goals respectively. Both times they looked very easy to get at, so it is very difficult to see them keeping out an attack which has so much movement and quality.
FC Twente v Vitesse
The last few weeks have displayed the level Twente are at. At home, they defeated PSV in a fantastic performance, but they met their match in an away defeat to Heerenveen – a match they enjoyed more possession in yet lost. The Tukkers are very much part of a strong top five this season, and they should expect more teams to be defensive against them, with a particularly strong home record.
The latest in Arnhem is that Thomas Letsch has departed as head coach. A successful reign began with qualification for Europe and then a memorable Conference League campaign. This season has been several steps back in terms of player quality, but Letsch has failed to arrest a slide of boring football and poor results.
A tactical change is needed now to suit the new players at the club. Phillip Cocu has come in as the new head coach – a long time since his failures with Fenerbache and Derby County. Vitesse’s 1-1 draw with Volendam showed just how competitive sides at the bottom of the table can be with the Arnhem club now, so Cocu has a lot of work to do.
The odds are very much in favour of a Twente win. There isn’t much that can be changed immediately about Vitesse; it is going to take time to change the playing style and for the younger players to adapt and develop into better ones than they are now. Home win.
RKC Waalwijk v Sparta Rotterdam
RKC’s two wins so far this season have come with goals. Meanwhile, two weeks ago, Sparta won a dire game with Groningen 2-1.
Having watched both of these sides this season, I actually think that both of these sides have the potential to battle it out for a top-half position. They won’t be battling it out for Europe, but there are some good quality players on display here that perhaps some bigger sides in the bottom half would love to have.
For example, Sparta’s new striker Tobias Lauritsen has linked up with his surrounding midfielders and he has been good for three goals already – his height is his biggest weapon from crosses.
I actually think that his height is not something RKC have faced thus far, and their new-look defence this season – whilst performing well together – may struggle with this different type of problem.
The home side do possess some talented midfielders though, and Michiel Kramer is a real nuisance of a striker himself. Therefore, I’m expecting a good game and at least one goal for either side.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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