All of the signs pointed towards “no”. When asked if PSV Eindhoven could stave off the pressure of AFC Ajax as the Eredivisie made a second-half push, many Dutch pundits would’ve said “no way”. Yet, somehow, the team atop the league keeps winning matches. Against PEC Zwolle over the weekend, a red card for the opposing goalkeeper ensured that a drab 0-0 quickly became a 4-0 win for the Boers. Last month, Luuk de Jong’s added-time winner saved PSV from embarrassment against Heracles Almelo.
Countless times over the course of the Eredivisie season, PSV have shown the strength to grind out results from nothing. Poor performances didn’t show come full-time — Nicolas Isimat Mirin’s 93rd Minute winner in Zwolle being a fine example. On the other hand, it has to be said that Hirving Lozano, Marco van Ginkel, and Santiago Arias’ immense performances have been unmatched by almost every other player across the country. The fact remains that underlying performance statistics aren’t always the tell-tale sign as to which team will claim the league title come May.
Have to applaud PEC Zwolle for their ambition, but playing a high line against this PSV side is asking for trouble.
— Alex Dieker (@adiek22) 3 February 2018
Ajax’ scoreless draw in Utrecht last weekend could be used to summarize a lot of that squad’s time this season. Good performances from talented young players, but too often it does not enough dominate a match. Even this past weekend was representative of the decline of title ambitions for the Ajacied — a measly 3-1 win over NAC Breda contrasts sharply to the 0-8 thrashing months prior. Erik ten Hag’s reign began with a massive Klassieker victory over rivals Feyenoord, but was the season doomed even before the sacking of Marcel Keizer?
Even with thirteen match weeks remaining, Ajax’ title hopes look worse and worse each day. PSV will probably meet very little resistance in the coming fixtures, except when they host Ajax and visit Feyenoord. Even third-placed AZ Alkmaar rarely pose a challenge to Phillip Cocu’s team.
As the other ‘Big 3′ club — Feyenoord — was condemned to yet another poor result over the weekend (1-0 loss at VVV-Venlo), the in-form clubs continue to duel it out atop the Eredivisie. Statistics show that Ajax have performed better throughout the season, but all of that means diddly-squat if PSV are 10 points clear in a couple months. The Eredivisie title race is PSV’s to lose and Ajax’ to win. De Topper is in the final three weeks of the season; will it be no more than a consolation battle for the Amsterdammers, or will it be the deciding duel in Holland’s top division?