Vitesse is off to a slow start to the second half of the season, having earned only six points in five matches since play has resumed following the winter break. On the bright side, Vitesse is still within striking distance of an Eredivisie title and Champions League football, but the club needs to start turning things around quickly.
As always, here's our latest look at what's going on with our second-favourite club.
Vitesse loses 2-0 against AZ, draws with ADO Den Haag 0-0
In the 4 February loss to AZ, Lucas Piazon, Christian Atsu, and Patrick van Aanholt all started. The loss ended Vitesse's 12-game Eredivisie unbeaten streak, and unfortunately, van Aanholt put the ball into his own net trying to defend a cross. Betrand Traore came on for Lucas Piazon to start the second half, and it's easy to see why there's so much hype surrounding the young Burkinabe. He looks extremely strong and possesses technical skills rather unique to a lad who just turned eighteen in September.
The match on 7 February against ADO marked the first time in the history of the Chelsea - Vitesse relationship that four Chelsea loanees were in the starting lineup, with Bertrand Traore making his first start, and replacing Mike Havenaar in the process. Vitesse had never started more than three Chelsea loanees prior to last Friday.
One curious development I've noticed is that whenever Zakaria Labyad (a new loanee Vitesse picked up last month from Sporting CP) comes on as a second-half sub, he's taken the free kicks. I am admittedly biased, but I have not been impressed with with the young lad's efforts, and he's assuming duties that previously fell to Lucas Piazon and Christian Atsu (to be fair, I do recall that Piazon had been subbed off for at least one such Labyad free kick, but Atsu and Bertrand Traore were both on the pitch).
The club hasn't looked the same since returning from the winter break, but despite the recent struggles, Vitesse is still only five points back in the title race and only one point from second place, which comes with a berth into the third qualifying round of the Champions League.
Vitesse has a pivotal match against Twente in Enschede on Saturday, and a win would go a long way towards getting back on track.
As in recent weeks, we have the good fortune to be able to reproduce the Vitesse portions of the excellent loan reports that @chelseayouth puts out each week (you can read the full loan report here) -
2014 has been a year to forget for Vitesse Arnhem as a four-game winless streak has seen their title hopes take more than a bit of a dent. A 2-0 defeat at home to AZ Alkmaar on Tuesday night was the first time they’ve failed to score in the league all season, and they drew another blank on Friday with a 0-0 draw at home to ADO Den Haag, who were bottom of the table.
Patrick van Aanholt was the unfortunate scorer of an own goal in the AZ defeat, slicing a close range finish into his own net in an attempt to clear a cross, but nobody in yellow and black played all that well in either match. He was the only Blues loanee to complete both matches, with Christian Atsu and Lucas Piazon replaced in the first outing and Piazon withdrawn again in the second, having yet to impact the scoresheet whatsoever since the Eredivisie returned from its winter break.
Bertrand Traore earned a first start against ADO after another sub outing against AZ and he played as the lone forward ahead of Piazon, Atsu and Renato Ibarra rather than playing wide. He at least looked the part, linking well with Atsu in particular, but drew no more than a few half-chances without ever truly threatening.
Results elsewhere in the league have left them just about in touch with leaders Ajax but Feyenoord and Twente have diluted the picture, so they’re now fighting for a Champions League place as well.
The Vitesse video team requires inspiration in order to produce their legendary Sfeerverslag, and after a few uninspiring performances, they decided to package the match lights from the previous two games in one Terugblik. Fortunately for us, the Vitesse video team has proven themselves very capable of making delicious beverages out of unwanted produce (that's how the saying goes, right?), and the video is well worth three minutes of your time.
Vitesse vs. FC Twente, 15 February, 7:30PM GMT on ESPN
ESPN has streamed a fair few Vitesse matches this season, and much to the delight of Vitesse supporters around the world, they will do so again on Saturday night.
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