FC Utrecht v Cambuur
Saturday 5th February – 3:30PM KO
This is set to be the first game back for Dutch football spectators as the Netherlands exits its lockdown; they are so badly needed with Eredivisie football having taken a dip in quality since fans were banned from games in late Autumn. Games have had fewer goals, but the entertainment is set to return.
Utrecht and Cambuur both surprised me two weeks ago: Utrecht won convincingly and Cambuur kept a clean sheet. Football is always full of surprises! Seventh plays eighth in what I hope is a free-flowing game.
Rene Haké’s Utrecht didn’t have a lot of the ball in their three-goal win over Sparta last time out, but it was much better than their drab performance against Ajax. Winger Othmane Boussaid stood out for creating many opportunities, with Anastasios Douvikas continuing to look a dangerous striker in support of the multi-functional Sander van de Streek.
Henk Veerman has signed from Heerenveen, but I can only see him being a substitute for his physicality. Cambuur will be buoyed with their shut out of AZ having not kept a clean sheet in their nine previous outings. However, I think reinvigorated Utrecht will have too much attacking quality for Henk de Jong’s side here.
Prediction: Utrecht to Win, 1.36 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Fortuna Sittard v Heerenveen
Saturday 5th February – 5:45PM KO
Heerenveen have been playing so badly, and Johnny Jansen has finally paid the price by losing his job. A fortnight ago, they lost at home to PEC Zwolle, who are another relegation candidate like Fortuna Sittard. Saturday’s visitors have now gone four games without scoring. They are really feeling the impact of the departed Joey Veerman. Heerenveen signed a few new players before the transfer deadline, but I don’t think many of them will have an impact yet.
Fortuna need to play like they did when they were last at home and gave AZ a good game. They lost that day, but they looked like a mid-table side and not one languishing down the bottom. In their previous match, Sjors Ultee’s men lost to RKC Waalwijk, who are another side fighting to avoid the drop. Fortuna were dangerous with their wide balls into the box, but yet again two early goals conceded cost them the game.
It’s still the same story for Fortuna. If they can keep games tighter, they have the quality to win games. Even switching to a back five has not helped them concede any fewer goals. Fortuna have conceded two goals or more in all but one of their last twelve matches; the one in which they managed to keep a clean sheet also happened to be the only win in their last twelve matches – a 0-1 win at PEC Zwolle. I think the points are coming for Fortuna.
Prediction: Fortuna Double Chance, 1.53 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
PEC Zwolle v NEC Nijmegen
Saturday 5th February – 7:00PM KO
PEC Zwolle must be full of confidence after back-to-back wins. Admittedly, they had just played two of the least in-form sides in the division, and NEC are a tougher cookie than Willem II and Heerenveen, but I don’t see the visitors posing much of a threat to Zwolle.
Zwolle are very much back in contention to survive. That new sense of belief makes this game harder to predict than earlier in the season. I still think predicting very few goals again involving PEC and NEC is a wise choice, with PEC being the league’s lowest scorers, and NEC the lowest scorers in the top half.
Both teams have also been playing with five defenders because they prefer to play cautiously without big star names in attack. NEC have a cup quarter final just days after this game, and they are without the suspended defender Ivan Marquez, so it will be up to Zwolle to grind out another positive result
Prediction: Under 2.5 Goals, 1.80 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
PSV Eindhoven v AZ Alkmaar
Saturday 5th February – 7:00PM KO
Roger Schmidt has just announced his summer departure from PSV. As well as that, they have to recover from their 1-2 home loss to title rivals Ajax. Controversially, the winning goal came from a debatable decision as to whether the whole of the ball had gone out of play in the build-up.
I think that defeat damages PSV’s title hopes, and only a win would have given them any realistic hope of overhauling Ajax at the end of the season. If Ajax keep players fit, they’ll win the necessary number of games. I also think PSV are yet to have their slip-up in the league, where they drop points when they have played poorly (whereas so far they have been below par and still won).
AZ might be the team to do it. They do have off-days in front of goal on occasion (including two weeks ago when they couldn’t even score playing leaky Cambuur!), but have already shown on the Europa Conference League stage and by winning at Ajax earlier in the season that they are still a decent side and they can be dangerous against the big sides. In a tough game to call, a double chance on AZ is a tasty-looking long shot. Having had two weeks to prepare, I can see them giving PSV a surprise.
Prediction: AZ Double Chance, 2.30 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
FC Twente v Vitesse Arnhem
Saturday 5th February – 8:00PM KO
Fourth plays sixth in an exciting battle for Eredivisie European places. Twente boss Ron Jans spoke after his side’s ninth league match unbeaten, explaining that he thinks his side are making the most of the sides around them dropping points, such as AZ Alkmaar, but he does not believe his side are ‘better’ than the likes of AZ or this weekend’s opponents Vitesse.
The Arnhem side’s Lois Openda is suspended for this one after his red card against Groningen resulting in a four-match suspension, but Thomas Letsch will hope to have Riechedly Bazoer and Sondre Tronstad back from injury. The spine of the team was struggling against Groningen, and the sending-off killed the game as a spectacle.
I do think that Vitesse will find it hard without Openda and they are facing a hungry team who want to impress the returning home crowd that they could make it into Europe. A bet of under 3.5 goals would have won in all but one of Twente’s last 11 games in all competitions. I’ll plump for an under 2.5 because of Openda’s suspension and Twente wanting to avoid defeat against Vitesse in front of the home crowd, knowing a positive result keeps their fellow top four hopefuls at arm’s length before the gruelling European football resumes for Vitesse.
Prediction: Under 2.5 Goals, 1.75 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
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