Go Ahead Eagles v Excelsior
Go Ahead Eagles’ good run of form continued last weekend, but they were not resilient enough to keep out NEC making a comeback from 1-3 to 3-3 late on in the game. So we have learnt that despite the Eagles’ recent improvement, they are not suddenly going to push on into the top half.
Oliver Edvardsen continues to gain people’s attention. The new arrival is a nice attacking player for a club down this end of the Eredivisie table, and former Liverpool player Bobby Adekanye was also in on the act last weekend, which gives fans optimism that their goals and creativity can keep Go Ahead out of trouble.
I am backing the home side to take three more valuable points on Saturday evening. Despite sitting in tenth, Excelsior (rather predictably) have the second leakiest defence in the division, and that is with Stijn van Gassel having made the most saves in the league – 61 – which is 11 more than the keeper in second!
Go Ahead do create a lot of chances in home matches, and I can see them putting Excelsior under considerable pressure. They just need to watch out for the counter attack, where the visitors will be dangerous.
FC Emmen v FC Groningen
A sort of derby has an early-season relegation cracker feel to it. Emmen, who are second bottom, take on Groningen, who sit only three places above them.
Watching Emmen last Saturday, I thought they were unfortunate to come away from Vitesse with no points. They started the game really brightly, creating a few golden chances, yet a couple of defensive errors, and more missed chances later in the game, meant they lost yet another game. The club will place faith in manager Dick Lukkien, but the points need to come if they are going to keep their season alive. That said, many will remember Emmen’s great escape of a couple of years ago when they had a terrible start to the season only to stay up!
Groningen will be delighted to have beaten PSV last weekend. The win must come with caution though as the 4-2 victory was down to some efficient finishing from Groningen and a combination of near misses and poor defending from PSV. It was surprising to see the side with the lowest xG in the league score four times. Confidence will have been restored in the players, and that can be even more valuable than the three points gained last weekend.
In a tricky game to predict, I think Emmen will bring Groningen back down to Earth. We’ve seen little glimpses of Frank Wormuth’s side this season, but they have been few and far between. Their season is still littered with some pretty poor performances.
PSV v NEC Nijmegen
PSV will no doubt be strong favourites here as they hope to take advantage of the fact that neither Ajax nor Feyenoord are playing this weekend (with their fixtures moved due to crucial European matches). This is one of those games where their forwards would usually be licking their lips at racking up the goals. It is the matches away from home where the Eindhoven side have struggled this season, and defensive frailties continue under Ruud van Nistelrooy just as they did under old head coach Roger Schmidt.
Xavi Simons and Cody Gakpo are warming up for selection for the World Cup with the Netherlands. They were excellent together with Luuk de Jong to beat Arsenal 2-0 on Thursday. However, they face potential teammate in Qatar, Jasper Cillessen. The NEC goalkeeper has been kept busy since his return to Nijmegen, and has possibly lost a little bit of that excellent form that saw him recalled to Louis van Gaal’s squad in the first place.
Whilst I do not believe that NEC are well equipped to get a result from Eindhoven, I think they will keep the score down. Rogier Meijer’s men have been the league’s draw specialists this season, drawing eight times already from 11. Their record of only 12 conceded might see them being a tougher nut to crack than what PSV are used to facing in terms of mid-table opposition. What’s more, PSV will come into this after a tough match against Arsenal on Thursday, and this time they won’t be as much of a threat on the counter attack with NEC likely to sit deep.
FC Twente v RKC Waalwijk
Unexpectedly, RKC have actually scored more goals than Twente so far this season (21 vs 19). I think this could be a relatively low-scoring game though, with Twente having the best defence in the Eredivisie (conceding only 7 in 11 games) and RKC are a notoriously difficult team to beat.
Twente have won every home league game so far this season, which is a credit to their brilliant fans and Ron Jans for creating this top-five worthy side with a sprinkling of quality in attack. When you have Lars Unnerstall in goal and a committed, experienced back four in front of him, it’s difficult to get past in Enschede.
RKC lost to Ajax 1-4 last time out, but they had a strong first half and continued their fine football of constantly finding their teammates in space in good areas. I’m just not sure how that translates to getting at least a point at Twente. This might be another rare loss for them.
Regardless of the result, I think it is clear that a bet on under 3.5 goals is a good take. Previous to facing league leaders Ajax, RKC had only lost to PSV and Feyenoord – both 1-0 – in a run of games that stretched back to the end of last season. The trouble for them last weekend was facing the strength of Brian Brobbey, which isn’t going to happen against Twente’s silkier forward players.
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