The biggest match of the Eredivisie season so far takes place in Amsterdam on Sunday, as Ajax play host to PSV Eindhoven.

  • By Michael Bell
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schfgBoth sides go into the match with 100% records after two games, with Ajax breezing past both Vitesse, and AZ Alkmaar, while PSV saw off Willem II, before hammering NAC Breda 6-1 last week.  Even at this early stage it is hard to see any other side challenging either PSV or Ajax for the title, and the match at the Amsterdam Arena will be an early indication of which side has the upper hand.

PSV haven’t lifted the Eredivisie trophy since 2008, but the current squad which features the attacking talent of Georginio Wijnaldum, and Memphis Depay have started the season on fire, and they will hope to prove their title credentials by beating the champions in their own back yard. The omens of a PSV win would be good to, as the last time the Eindhoven side triumphed at the Amsterdam Arena, they won the league.

Ajax, who are searching for their fifth straight Eredivisie title, have barely looked troubled so far this season, with Lasse Schone, and Daley Blind continuing their excellent form from last season. Frank de Boer has made only a few summer signings, but the acquisition of Nick Viergever has been a smart move, with the former AZ captain strengthening an already formidable midfield. Its only up front where Ajax still have question marks, with Ricardo Kishna struggling so far on the wing, while De Boer has still not decided whether Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, or Arkadiusz Milik will be his first choice striker. A move for Samuel Eto’o has fallen through, and if Ajax are to continue their stranglehold on the Eredivisie trophy, they may have to find a goalscorer in the next week, before the transfer window shuts.

Team News:

Ajax coach Frank de Boer has a number of decisions to make ahead of the game, especially in defence, where Ricardo van Rhijn and Joel Veltman may be available again. Ruben Ligeon has looked shaky so far at right back, and De Boer may bring Van Rhijn straight back into the action, while Veltman should replace Mike van der Hoorn. De Boer also needs to decide whether he sticks with Kisha on the left, or hands the exciting Anwar el Ghazi his first Eredivisie start.

Possible Ajax line-up: Cillessen, Van Rhijn, Boilesen, Veltman, Moisander, Blind, Viergever, Klaassen, Schone, El Ghazi, Sigthorsson

PSV will be without right back Santiago Arias  for the trip to Amsterdam, while left back Jetro Willems may only be fit enough for the bench after returning from injury. Joshua Brenet will start at right back, and Abel Tamata will continue on the left.

Possible PSV XI: Zoet, Brenet, Tamata, Rekik, Bruma, Hiljemark, Maher, Wijnaldum, Locadia, Depay, De Jong

Key Players:

depay hbMemphis Depay: The winger has been the undoubted player of the season so far, and after a summer of being linked with a number of big clubs, he has committed his future to PSV this week by signing a new deal until 2018. Capable of changing the match in an instant, Depay will be PSV’s key man during the match. Watch out for the winger’s powerhouse of a right foot when cutting in from the right. Whoever Frank de Boer picks at right back is going to have a long evening.

daley blindDaley Blind: The midfielder is a class act, and keeps Ajax ticking over in midfield with an extensive passing range, and a calmness that see’s him never lose the ball. A great reader of the game, and a shield to the defence, Blind will be needed to counter the effectiveness of Georginio Wijnaldum

de jongdsdsLuuk de Jong: The striker has failed to net in the opening two games of the season so far, but his link up play around the box is key to bringing the likes of Wijnaldum, and Depay into the game. Up against Moisander and Veltman, De Jong will need to be strong on the ball, and if he can get the upper hand on the defence, PSV could come away with all three points.

schone bgLasse Schone: Voted player of the year last season, Schone has started the new campaign on fire, with three goals already, and the Danish midfielder’s roaming role on the wings will be key. Up against two young wing backs, Schone could have a field day if PSV don’t manage to shackle him

Last season’s match up:  Ajax edged the meeting at the Amsterdam Arena 1-0, but PSV gained revenge with a 4-0 hammering at the Philips Stadion.

Prediction:

Both teams have been impressive in attack, and the outcome of the meeting on Sunday may be decided by who’s back four can withstand the most pressure. Depay has been untouchable so far this season, and it remains to be seen how a half fit Ricardo van Rhijn will be able to stop him from controlling the game. While at the other end can the inexperienced duo of Abel Tamata, and Joshua Brenet keep Lasse Schone quiet?

Looking at both sides, PSV have more threat in attack, and if Depay, and Wijnaldum keep up their early season form then they may just prove too much for Ajax. PSV have not tasted success in the Amsterdam Arena for the past six years, but Phillip Cocu’s side are determined to end that record, and make a real statement on Sunday.

Ajax 1-2 PSV




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