Runners-up to PSV last season, Ajax have taken this campaign by the scruff of the neck with a fabulous unbeaten start to the 2015/16 Eredivisie.
The current Dutch Premiership champions fell to an uncharacteristic defeat to Heracles last week, who have been in a rich vein of form since their opening match of the season. The top of the table looks rather congested while there are still three sides waiting to pick up their first wins of the campaign, all rooted to the bottom.
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Saturday 26 September
Heerenveen found themselves overrun by an energetic NEC side away from home last weekend. A brace from Christian Santos was enough to bury Heerenveen, who would’ve hoped for a better response given their stuttering start to the season. Heerenveen won their opening match but since drew three on the trot before losing back-to-back games. With only six points from six matches, the Super Frisians face a tough test in Vitesse. The visitors have won all three of their home fixtures but their form away from home leaves a lot to be desired. After drawing their opener with Willem II, they lost to both Feyenoord and Utrecht. This fixture has served up a lot of draws in recent years and with it being a difficult one to call, the stalemate at 23/10 looks a solid punt.
Utrecht went down 3-1 last week to Willem II, their second loss of the season. It’s been a bang average start for the side so far, who have also won two and drawn two. 21-year-old Sebastien Haller has been in fine form with four goals, three of them penalties, but his silly straight red card at the weekend will see him suspended for this one. Cambuur are one of the aforementioned sides still without a win this campaign. Draws with PEC Zwolle and FC Twente came either side of some embarrassing losses, shipping six goals against both PSV and Heracles at home. Cambuur have conceded a staggering twenty goals in six matches. Utrecht are tipped to make home advantage count at 15/20.
Mighty Ajax Amsterdam picked up a straightforward three points at Excelsior to surge to the top of the Eredivisie table. Ajax have been solid home and away, with just a draw at FC Twente not yielding three points. Anwar El Ghazi has been a revelation this season. The 20-year-old has struck seven times in six games to top the Eredivisie charts and is just two goals away from his tally for the whole of last season. FC Groningen face a massive task but will likely be buoyed by a decent start to their campaign. Three wins and one draw from their six matches sees them in mid-table; it has just been a lack of momentum that has let them down. Ajax haven’t lost at home to Groningen since 1993 which makes the home win a banker bet at 3/10.
AZ Alkmaar 17/20
AZ Alkmaar have made a difficult start to the season with only a solitary win against newly promoted De Graafschap to show for their exploits. For a side that finished third last season and earned automatic qualification for the Europa League qualifying rounds, AZ’s early forays have not been good enough. While a Europa League hangover from their trip to Serbia will be used as an excuse, their 2-0 loss against Groningen last week was simply miserable. Heracles, on the other hand, have begun the season on fire. Their opening loss to Roda JC will be completely forgotten off the back of five consecutive wins and second spot on the table. Oussama Tannane has rifled in five goals so far, yet another very young prospect taking the Eredivisie by storm. All of the league’s top scorers are below the age of 25. Heracles are tipped to claim the three points at a valuable 31/10.
The champions were held to draws by ADO Den Haag and Heerenveen before their shock loss to Heracles last time out. Perhaps a polished performance was a bit too much to ask, as the side from Eindhoven had rallied midweek to beat Manchester United 2-1 in Champions League competition. Three wins, two draws and a loss sees the side comfortably settled in mid-table and alarm bells will not be ringing just yet. NEC put back-to-back losses to form sides Heracles and Ajax behind them with victories over Heerenveen and Willem II either side of a draw with Roda JC. Only a point behind PSV, NEC will feel that they have a chance to nick at least a draw from this contest as they’ve been solid defensively, not conceding in three consecutive fixtures. However, I find it difficult to back them as their head-to-head record against PSV is dismal and they are surely due a reality check in the top flight. The home win is a banker at 1/6.
Sunday 27 September
De Graafschap 18/10
Willem II 14/10
Newly promoted De Graafschap have been on a hiding to nothing since their reintroduction to the Eredivisie. Six matches, six losses and sixteen goals conceded does not make for pretty reading for the Super Farmer faithful. They’ve only managed to breach the opposition defence twice in this campaign and one cannot help but feel that they are slightly outclassed at this level. Willem II had hardly fared much better until last weekend, picking up a 3-1 win at home against Utrecht. With five points earned from their six fixtures, Tricolores simply must pick up a win here to stay in contention with the chasing pack. I’m tipping them to do just that at 14/10.
PEC Zwolle 67/10
PEC Zwolle will hold fond memories of beating Feyenoord 3-0 at home towards the back end of the last campaign in May 2015. The problem that Zwolle face in this fixture is Feyenoord’s home ground advantage, which has seen the Blauwvingers defeated every time they have played at Stadion Feijenoord. Zwolle have started the season in fine form with four wins and two draws, no losses. However, they will undoubtedly face their toughest test in Feyenoord. Feyenoord are a point behind Zwolle on the log having lost one match, to PSV. Although the prices don’t reflect it, there is quite little to choose between these two sides, who finished only six points apart last season. With that in mind, I can only let history guide my betting pattern at this point. The weight of Feyenoord’s home success against Zwolle makes the 7/20 on offer good enough to snap up.
ADO Den Haag 7/10
ADO Den Haag are yet another Dutch side with a scrappy beginning to the season. They thumped FC Twente 4-1 away from home after drawing with PSV, but another stalemate with Utrecht has been followed by three consecutive defeats. They’ll be eager to turn the tables against fellow strugglers, Excelsior. Excelsior only avoided relegation by a narrow margin last season and would’ve hoped for a better start than four losses from six games. It already looks as though it will be a long and protracted season for the Excelsior faithful and I don’t hold much hope for them on the road, despite Den Haag’s inconsistent beginning. Get behind the home side at 7/10.
Roda JC 33/10
Three draws and three losses sees FC Twente desperately seeking a win to try and find some sort of momentum. Their tenth place finish last season indicates that they are a better side than their recent results. A home draw two weeks back against Ajax also bears testament to this but they will have to another gear to be successful against a bright Roda JC outfit. Having progressed to the Eredivisie via promotion play-offs last season, Roda JC have managed wins over Heracles, De Graafschap and AZ Alkmaar. They’ve drawn back-to-back games against NEC and Feyenoord and certainly have what it takes to spring a surprise here. I’m leaning towards the away win at a fantastic 33/10.