This weekend is round 17 of the Eredivisie and Michael Statham continues to provide his preview and predictions for each match. This match-week is the last before the league pauses for the winter break, and could see any of the top three finish as winter champions.

eredFriday, December 18

Vitesse v Twente

I thought Vitesse were lucky to claim a draw in Almelo last week, which is strange considering they dominated PSV the week before. Peter Bosz’s side couldn’t cope with the number of long balls thrown at their back line.

This could well be Hakim Ziyech’s last game for Twente before he is inevitably sold. His contribution to the team is incredible as he has been involved in 14 of The Tukkers’ 17 goals in this campaign. Ziyech will be sorely missed.

At least Twente won their vital match with De Graafschap last week to help them keep up with their relegation rivals just above them.

I think Vitesse should win this one comfortably, however they must perform better than they did against Heracles.

Prediction: 2-1

Saturday, December 19

AZ v Utrecht

AZ’s up and down form continues. A promising performance against Athletico Bilbao in the Europa League was forgotten following a poor outing in Zwolle.

AZ did well and looked slick in attack, until they conceded a goal towards the end of the first half, then heads dropped and players grew tired in the second half.

In defence Ron Vlaar should be a massive boost for Alkmaar once he is fit. He not only possesses fantastic defensive qualities, the centre-back is also a strong leader, who should serve as a stimulus to the side’s character.

Utrecht will come to Alkmaar full of confidence after beating the current league leaders. They were better than Ajax in all compartments.

Should the visitors continue their fine form, they should expect to finish in the top seven. However Erik Ten Hag must be worried about losing target man Sebastien Haller in January, who has often been a primary catalyst up front.

Prediction: 1-1

PSV v PEC Zwolle

In my opinion PSV have the strongest squad in the league, so for me it’s a wonder why they haven’t been able to turn some draws into wins against the teams in the bottom half of the table.

It’s interesting how the champions have beaten the likes of Feyenoord, Vitesse and Ajax in the league but drawn against sides struggling in the bottom half. Concentration is an issue, which must stem from motivation to put in the effort to beat these lesser sides.

PEC are a tough test and will come to Eindhoven difficult to beat. Pace on the break will be their biggest weapon.

Admittedly there is a cup distraction this week, but no European match may leave PSV to focus on domestic action.

Prediction: 2-0

Heracles v Groningen

Oussama Tannane has given Heracles a welcome boost since his return from injury. The Almelo side look much more dangerous again, plus with Iliass Bel Hassani also improving recently, Heracles are a handful.

The visitors arrive in Almelo on the back of an eight-match unbeaten league run. Still though, Groningen have only picked up one win on the road all season in all competitions.

I think Heracles will have too much firepower for their opponents.

Prediction: 2-1

Sunday, December 20

Excelsior v Cambuur

Excelsior haven’t won at home since early October yet they are still a decent side. They have no stand-out players and work very well as a unit.

Finally Cambuur can celebrate a win in the Eredivisie. For the first time in a long time they looked threatening coming forward, the defence didn’t crumble and the spirit remained high amongst the players even after conceding the equaliser.

They will have to continue to improve their resolve as they look to battle their way out of the bottom three.

Prediction: 1-1

NEC v Feyenoord

Ernest Faber’s men have stumbled lately. Already on the back of a three match run without a win in the league, NEC lost to third tier HHC Hardenberg midweek. A solid start to the season has faltered, Faber will have a tough job to resurrect the solid team he had in the early months of the campaign.

It doesn’t get any easier though for the home side, with title-chasing Feyenoord heading to Nijmegen.

The Rotterdammers do however have a problem or two in defence, as out of favour Miquel Nelom is returning to the side in place of the suspended Jan-Arie van der Heijden and the injured Eric Botteghin.

I will still back the visitors to have enough firepower to beat an out of sorts NEC.

Prediction: 0-2

Heerenveen v ADO Den Haag

The home side have won their last four games at the Abe Lenstra Stadion, a place where they confidently play on the front foot in an attacking style.

Sam Larsson is a catalyst behind Heerenveen’s recent success. The Swede is slowly but surely rediscovering his form from last season, he will want to impress in order to grab himself a place in Sweden’s Euro 2016 squad in the summer.

Despite playing with ten men for much of the second half, I thought Henk Fraser was right, his side would have won had they carried on with all eleven men on the pitch.

Although they will have to do without injured Mike Havenaar in this one. His presence up front will be sorely missed as ADO enjoy using his hold up play in their direct style.

Prediction: 1-1

Willem II v Roda JC

For the fourth week in a row The Tilburgers face a direct opponent in the table. So far they have claimed seven points out of nine against Twente, Cambuur and ADO – a good return for Jurgen Streppel, who was a man under heavy pressure only a month ago.

Meanwhile Roda are still winless since August; however they played very well to grab a point in Eindhoven in their last league match and beating Heerenveen in the Beker will be a massive confidence boost.

This match is a tough one to call as both sides look to be turning a corner. Tomi Juric’s return from injury has helped Roda’s upturn in fortunes and I think it will make the difference again here.

Prediction: 1-2

Ajax v De Graafschap

Ajax have a presentable opportunity to become winter champions as they face the league’s basement team.

Although I have doubts over how long the Amsterdammers will remain at the league’s summit given how they played in Utrecht. De Boer’s tactics didn’t work and he should have changed them at half-time after realising his side were being exposed in wide areas and not creating enough up front. Instead, De Boer insisted on sticking with his flawed tactics and his team were punished.

De Graafschap will still have to pull off a miracle to scrape any sort of result. They lost again last weekend but this time against a team only a couple of places above them in the table, with a man extra too.

Jan Vreman’s men have a distinct lack of quality which will hopefully be acted upon next month in the transfer window, or else De Graafschap will be relegated before spring arrives.

Prediction: 4-0

How have I done so far?

Week 1: 4 results

Week 2: 3 results, 1 correct score

Week 3: 7 results, 1 correct score

Week 4: 4 results, 1 correct score

Week 5: 7 results, 2 correct scores

Week 6: 4 results, 1 correct score

Week 7: 7 results

Week 8: 5 results, 1 correct score

Week 9: 5 results, 1 correct score

Week 10: 4 results, 1 correct score

Week 11: 4 results, 1 correct score

Week 12: 3 results, 1 correct score

Week 13: 5 results

Week 14: 6 results

Week 15: 6 results, 1 correct score

Week 16: 4 results, 2 correct scores

Think you can better my predictions? Tweet me! @EredivisieMike or tweet @football_oranje or comment below with yours…

Michael Statham (828 Posts)

Writer/interviewer/YouTuber for Football-Oranje. Massive Dutch football fan from the UK. Follow me @EredivisieMike & subscribe to Football-Oranje on YouTube.