A huge game in the Eredivisie this weekend! Last year’s champions face the runner-ups of previous season. This season’s ranking looks a bit different though, PSV stand second in the league with 12 points and Ajax is trailing with 11 points on the fourth position. A victory could leap them over current league leaders PEC Zwolle (13points). Both clubs are not in the best form yet, Ajax ended their drawing streak of 4 against PEC Zwolle (2-1) and PSV have not won once in 6 matches after a flying start.
Ajax’s last match against Barcelona gave us some good insight about how the squad plays without Eriksen and Alderweireld. Denswil has won de Boer’s faith and impressed in the backline against Barcelona. The 21-year old centreback looked confident, concentrated and very professional for his age. Lerin Duarte took over Eriksen’s spot on the midfield, standing between Busquets, Iniesta and Fabregas, it was clear that Duarte struggled as his foul caused the first goal. It’s still premature to judge him, it is clear he is a good Eredivisie player. However, Ajax strives for the top again, and with players like Duarte it will not be easy.
As previously mentioned, PSV’s flying start has crash-landed and Cocu’s young squad is looking to regain their prime form. The defensive duo: Rekik and Bruma received heavy (deserved) praises, some pundits even made a bold statement that this defensive duo would be good enough for the World Cup campaign. Now with Rekik out with an injury, his importance to the squad is very noticeably. Hendrikx and Zanka are not good enough to replace Rekik, evidently the squad conceded two goals against Ludogrovets. There’s more bad news for Phillip Cocu, shortly after Rekik injured himself, his captain: Wijnaldum also sustained an injury and will be missing against Ajax as well.
Cocu’s tried to fill in the gap with Ola Toivonen, the Swedish international was put on the transfer-list this summer but stayed due to the lack of interest. His refusal to sign a new contract forced the club to move him to the youth squad, but Cocu has taken Toivonen back into his grace. However, his performance was below-par against the Bulgarian champions.
It is a puzzle that needs to be solved quickly; currently PSV plays with one defensive midfielder (usually Schaars) and two offensive mids ( Wijnaldum and Maher). Wijnaldum’s energic style of play is crucial in this midfield, whereas Toivonen lacks this feat. Cocu could opt for two defensive midfielders instead of one and line-up Maher as his sole attacking midfielder.
Although still early in the season, it remains a very crucial game. The winner has the possibility to leap over the current leaders and gain a mental advantage over the other title contenders.