Michael Bell takes you through his talking points from the first week of the Eredivisie. Get involved with yours in the comments section. 

Has Neres had his head turned?

Ajax’s season got off to a poor start with a 1-1 draw with Heracles on Saturday with David Neres one of the players who was especially out of sorts. The Brazilian winger has been heavily linked with moves away from Amsterdam this summer but Marc Overmars has so far turned down bids of around €40 million for Neres. Is the transfer speculation behind the poor form?

Against Heracles, Neres only provided two crosses, neither accurate, completed only two dribbles and ended the game with the lowest pass accuracy of any of his teammates (65%). Neres was a key man for Ajax last season and the club needs him to regain his form if they are to challenge PSV.

Poor service not helping Sierhuis or Huntelaar 

Kaj Sierhuis didn’t have a great debut for Ajax on Saturday but he linked up the play well and created two chances in the first half. For me, his teammates let him down with a complete lack of service.

David Neres was non-existent on the left and on the right, Hakim Ziyech prefered to cut inside and shoot instead of finding his teammates. In the second half, Huntelaar was introduced and crosses started coming into the box but they were mainly off-target or well defended.

Out of the 29 crosses sent into the box by Ajax on Saturday, only four found a red and white shirt, resulting in one goal. Ziyech was behind 17 of these crosses, with only three accurate.

Huntelaar and Sierhuis thrive on balls into the box and Ajax need to improve their final ball if they are to compete at domestic and European level.

The promoted sides off to a great start

It was great to see all three promoted sides getting positive results this weekend with Emmen and De Graafschap getting great wins over ADO Den Haag and Feyenoord, while Fortuna came away from Excelsior with a point.

All three are expected to struggle this season but will have gained some confidence after proving they can compete at the top level. If anything it proves that the battle at the bottom is going to be very tight this year. Anyone of eight or nine teams could be dragged into a relegation dogfight.

Goals goals and more goals

There was 30 goals across the nine games this weekend in the Eredivisie, an average of 3.3 goals per game.

The Eredivisie is known for its goals and it looks like this is set to be another bumper year.

PSV put down a marker

I tipped PSV for the title before the start of the campaign and they looked good in their easy 4-0 win over Utrecht on Saturday that easily could have been a 6-0 or 7-0 thrashing.

Mark van Bommel has his side playing good football with Gaston Pereiro thriving in the number ten position and Hirving Lozano and Steven Bergwijn both looking dangerous up front. The new signings all impressed at the back and with more incomings expected, PSV are looking very strong in their pursuit of the title.

Feyenoord in tatters

What is going on at Feyenoord? Utterly torn apart by AS Trencin in the Europa League they were awful in their 2-0 defeat to De Graafschap on Sunday.

All over the pitch, Feyenoord looks completely out of form. They have not scored a goal in their three games so far, while defensively they are all over the place. Giovanni van Bronckhorst has big problems and needs to turn it around quickly or fingers will start to be pointed in his direction.

Former Feyenoord favourite Peter Bosz is available and could be tempting for Martin van Geel if Gio can’t lift the team. The European tie with Trencin and home game against Excelsior next weekend are huge for the club.

AZ’s young guns shine

AZ Alkmaar were excellent in their 5-0 win over NAC Breda, which was the most one-sided game of the weekend.

John van den Brom has put his faith in a number of youngsters and it paid off on Sunday with 17-year-old Myron Boadu scoring and looking dangerous up front, while 20-year-old Teun Koopmeiners controlled the game from start to finish.

AZ no longer have Europe to think about and can concentrate on finishing in the top three again. With Boadu, Til, and Koopmeiners, van den Brom has three massive talents and Calvin Stengs is on his way back.

It could be another exciting season at the AFAS Stadion.

Slutsky’s Vitesse contenders for top three?

Other than PSV and AZ, the other big winners of the weekend were Vitesse Arnhem who hammered Groningen 5-1.

Leonid Slutsky’s side could have been forgiven for having one eye on the return tie with Basel on Thursday but they put a poor Groningen side to the sword on Sunday.

Slutsky has his side looking strong at the back and clinical up front with Bryan Linssen and Tim Matavz in great form. Vitesse look good and it can not be ruled out that they challenge Feyenoord and AZ for a top three spot this season.

VAR

The much-maligned video assistant referee is now in the Eredivisie and was used several times during the weekend in the Eredivisie. For me the technology is definitely a positive for Dutch football and worked well during the first weekend.

Several good calls were made using the technology especially during Willem II 0-1 VVV with Fran Sol trying a Maradona moment and punching the ball into the net. Last season it would have stood and VVV could have lost two crucial points.

I am sure there will be some controversial moments in the coming weeks, but VAR is off to a good start.




Michael Bell (63 Posts)