FC Twente have had a solid start to the season after only losing one game but majority of their draws have given the idea that they could do better this season. They also need to shore up their defence so they can stop leaking game-altering goals.

martina tweFC Twente have been in good form this season, only losing one game but they could do more to be challenging Ajax and PSV. Their main problem has been turning draws into wins or rather churning out solid defensive performances to keep the lead. With the likes of Nacer Chadli and Dusan Tadic leaving in the past couple of seasons, one might be shocked that the majority of their problems lie in defence.

They lack the real aggression and very few players look like they actually want to defend and in the 4-3-3 that Twente play, the responsibility needs to be shared. Manager Alfred Schreuder plays the formation to fit all his attacking talent into one team as well as negate the defensive deficiencies but it won’t help them challenge for the Eredivisie like they should be. Twente have the third highest pass accuracy in the Eredivisie with a percentage of 83% but they have struggled when losing the ball during transition as they commit so many bodies forward. In counter attacks, it looks like Schreuder has worked with them defensively in training but the players lack the initiative to go out and close down players. A good example of this was for Kolbeinn Sigorthsson’s equalising goal for Ajax because he initially receives the ball from Ricardo Kishna who makes a dribble then finds space to drive into, in the situation, there are three confused Twente defenders marking Sigorthsson and awaiting a through ball and none of them close down Kishna. He eventually makes the pass that eludes all three defenders and finds Sigorthsson who scores.

Daryl Lachman and Cuco Martina, although they shouldn’t be solely be blamed haven’t been up to par in terms of their defending making a combined 1.6 tackles per game with 1.1 coming from the latter. However they do make a combined 7 clearances but this is the root of Twente’s problems; they are sitting off attackers too much and give away too much space as they are waiting for the ball. These two occupy the right side which at the moment is incredibly frail; they need to follow the lead of Rasmus Bengtsson and Robert Schilder on the left. Bengtsson doesn’t commit many tackles but he makes nearly 2 interceptions per game with Schilder completing majority of the tackles with 2.5 per game. Schilder also makes 2 interceptions and 3 clearances a game making him Twente’s most productive and well-rounded defender at left back, Twente will not challenge for the Eredivisie unless the rest of their defence produce similar outputs. Surely, there should’ve been more urgency to dispossess Kishna, especially in a home game against the current Eredivisie holders.

The midfield also need to aid the defence more, very few players track back to help the defence when Twente lose possession. Kamohelo Mokotjo has been a revelation in both the attacking and defensive side of the game but he needs more support from Hakim Ziyech and Kyle Ebecillio in order for Twente to defend well. Mokotjo has 1 goal and 4 assists but he makes nearly 3 tackles a game, 2 interceptions and 1 clearance as he has been a strong presence in the midfield. Mokotjo also has 64 passes at a rate of 89% with nearly five long balls a game; he has been a force in the midfield, starting off attacks, being a constant in neat passing triangles and doing the gritty work in his own half. Ziyech is positioned as a central midfielder but has been given freedom to roam forward into the little pockets of space he enjoys creating and scoring goals in and he has done this to great effect with 2 goals and 3 assists this season. He looks dejected when carrying out his defensive duties acting as another body behind the ball rather than actually making an effort to close down players; he makes less than 1 tackle a game, about the same number of interceptions while being dribbled once per game. It is understandable that he struggles with this side of the game as he is used to playing as an attacking midfielder with no defensive responsibilities and it is misguided for Schreuder to thrust him into the heart of midfield so early in his Twente career. Ebecillio is steadily improving as he begins to make more tackles and get stuck in more in the defensive side of the game and this is a cause for optimism. Against Excelsior his weakness were exposed as he was slow to close down players, was unwilling to dive into tackles and was very slow to get back once being caught out. However, in the games that Twente dominate possession he is more effective, playing neat short passes in the midfield and in the final third.

Twente are currently in fourth place in the Eredivisie and after a commanding 2-0 win against Heereveen, they should look to find some form of consistency to challenge for the Eredivisie. Their next two games are against FC Dordrecht and PEC Zwolle, two teams you would expect them to beat but can spring a surprise and the only way Twente can beat them and push on this season is with more assured defending. They need a stable platform to ensure that all their attacking can thrive.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)