RKC Waalwijk v Ajax
I have spread the love for RKC Waalwijk this season. An unfancied team by many, Joseph Oosting is really getting this lowly side playing some good football whilst being tough to beat. Their only two defeats after ten games have been 1-0 to both PSV and Feyenoord. Admittedly they lost in the Dutch Cup to an amateur side in mid-week, though that was with a much-changed side.
By following the same logic as when other top teams have played RKC, Ajax are likely to win narrowly in Waalwijk; however, no clean sheet in seven games in all competitions is making fans nervous that this season’s title race will be more wide open than previous years, and Ajax are the fall guys.
You’d be brave to predict a good result for Waalwijk, but Ajax have been a bit all over the place recently, that is despite their 7-1 win over Excelsior.
There’s a reason why RKC are sitting in seventh so far. Oosting gets the best out of his players in a 5-3-2 that helps his players always find space on the ball but keep them as defensively solid as last season. Because of that, Ajax are going to find it tough to score many in Waalwijk.
FC Groningen v PSV
Groningen are in a relegation battle. They cannot seem to compete with the top sides at all this season, when usually Groningen away is a tough match for any of the Eredivisie’s finest.
Despite a mid-week cup win, I don’t see how such a limited side can either drastically improve their defending to keep out, or their goal-scoring to out-score PSV. No matter what tactic they employ, PSV will just have too much.
PSV score goals galore when playing the league’s lesser lights, so we could be in for more fun and frolics from Cody Gakpo and Xavi Simons, but they may not be too fresh having played Arsenal on Thursday. Luckily for Ruud van Nistelrooy, we may even see a full return from injury for trio Noni Madueke, Luuk de Jong and Mauro Junior, adding some much needed quality back into the team.
I believe we’ll see some players come back into the team and having a great impact. PSV were flat in the Europa League – losing 1-0 to Arsenal – yet we mustn’t forget they were playing the team currently top of the Premier League. A big win coupled with returns of some important players may fill PSV fans with confidence that their season is back on track.
Cambuur v FC Twente
After failing to score again, my pre-season prediction of Cambuur being in relegation trouble this season is starting to look realistic, but not for the reasons I thought. The club from Leeuwarden were defensively poor last season, and I thought their goalkeeper signing Joao Virginia wasn’t a great one, yet it’s the forward players who have been disappointing more than anything during this campaign so far.
This week, Cambuur had the sad news that Henk de Jong has had to step down as head coach following a continuation of an illness that forced him to take time out last season too. As the club search for a successor, they may continue to have the same struggle for goals. It might be by January (the season re-start) when they can have time with the new manager and possibly a chance to bring in one or two fresh attacking faces.
On the road, Twente have a poor record this season, winning only once from five away games. Whilst several were against top-half sides, they haven’t performed anywhere near as well as they do in Enschede. However, this is Twente’s opportunity to pounce.
Cambuur weren’t the same last season without De Jong on the touchline. In fact, they plummeted down the table without his influence. What’s more, Twente have shown they are a very strong ‘best of the rest’ side in the Eredivisie this season. I think they’ll close the gap on the top four.
FC Volendam v Heerenveen
At the moment, Volendam look in real danger of relegation. They concede far too many for this level, and they don’t look competitive against some of the sides around them when playing away from home.
On the plus side, they have occasionally surprised everybody when playing at home: they run Ajax ragged recently, and they have beaten Twente. Also, their opponents on Sunday, Heerenveen, don’t score many either – from 10 matches, Heerenveen have scored a poultry nine, and only conceded nine.
The visitors continue to be a defensively set-up team which picks up results more often than not. They are lacking some goals at the moment; commentators and pundits are picking up on Amin Sarr’s lack of contribution since the opening weeks of the campaign.
It was a shame to see Heerenveen score at Go Ahead Eagles last weekend then try to sit back and see out the game – several times this season, it would have been good to see Kees van Wonderen throw caution to the wind, change the formation to a more positive one, and go for the three points.
Playing on the counter attack might suit the away team here and sitting back when a goal up against struggling Volendam may just work this time
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