After defeating PEC Zwolle 2-1 at the IJsseldelta Stadion, Vitesse is now unbeaten in its last ten Eredivisie matches and looks to continue its run of good form this weekend in the Gelderse derby against NEC.
As always, here's our latest look into what's happening with our second-favourite club.
Vitesse beats PEC Zwolle 2-1, goals from Atsu and van Aanholt
A very early goal from Christian Atsu and a very late winner from Patrick van Aanholt bookended the win for Vitesse.
Atsu put the club on top in the opening minutes with a terrific strike just inside the centre of the box after dribbling past no less than three Zwolle defenders. However, Zwolle quickly tied the game up after capitalising on a defensive lapse in the Vitesse backline.
Vitesse had an excellent opportunity to regain the lead after Renato Ibarra (having just been sprung by Lucas Piazon) was taken down in the box. However, the Zwolle keeper made a terrific save on Piazon's penalty shot and the match remained tied at one-all.
This all happened within the first fifteen minutes of the game, mind you.
Despite moving the ball well, (91% pass completion rate in the first half and 88% overall to go along with a significant edge in possession), Vitesse looked a bit disjointed throughout. Due to Mike Havenaar's suspension and very little striker depth, the team was forced to start young backup winger Giorgi Chanturia up top. Vitesse supporters seem to like Havenaar quite a bit as a person, but are divided on whether or not he's the answer up top. He's had some rather large shoes to fill after Wilfried Bony's departure, and those who were hoping for a change up top will likely be counting the minutes until Havenaar is back in the lineup after the Chanturia experiment.
As the game wore on, Patrick van Aanholt appeared to grow increasingly unsatisfied with just the single point (he had been playing in a very attacking wingback position as opposed to a traditional fullback). In the waning minutes, he took matters into his own hands, and attacking from the left flank, cooly slotted one past the Zwolle keeper to secure the win.
The club was alone at the top of the table for about twenty-four hours this weekend, but Ajax beat PSV 1-0 to keep pace with Vitesse, and only goal differential separates the two sides.
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 view the full loan report here) -
"Over in the Netherlands, the Eredivisie resumed after a winter break and it did so in familiar fashion as a host of Blues prospects hauled Vitesse to a win which keeps them level atop the league with Ajax. The performance away to Zwolle was not particularly good, nor was it memorable, but a fine solo goal by Atsu inside two minutes and a late point-stealer by Van Aanholt – his fifth of the season – secure the three points.
Both goalscorers played well in their 90 minutes, whilst Lucas Piazon had a solid game marred by a missed penalty kick. Bertrand Traore, the other notable loanee at the Gelredome (as Cristian Cuevas isn’t threatening a first-team breakthrough), was absent through travelling back to Africa to complete work permit paperwork. He should be available for next weekend’s derby at home to NEC Nijmegen, all being well."
Sfeerverslag videos are back! The legendary Vitesse video team has emerged from its winter hibernation and is back producing terrific highlight packages.
Gelderse Derby Week
Vitesse plays rival NEC at the Gelredome on Sunday and this will be the second leg of the Gelderse derby. These prizefight posters have been plastered all over Arnhem since last week, and even though NEC is languishing at the bottom of the table, the Vitesse faithful are very excited about the match. Unfortunately, captain Guram Kashia picked up his
fourth fifth yellow card of the season during the Zwolle match and will be suspended for the derby. Look for Dan Mori to take his place at centre-back (Mori played and scored in a match with the reserves today and should be good to go on Sunday).
Piazon has already cemented his spot in Gelderse derby history, scoring the winning goal just seconds before the whistle blew in the first leg back in September. Piazon's efforts were rewarded with a great banner the following week.
Hofs: "The rest of the Netherlands is just jealous"
Former Vitesse player and Arnhem native, Nicky Hofs, spoke about the growing animosity in the Netherlands towards Vitesse due to their success and relationship with Chelsea.
Speaking with NOS, Hofs said "I think a lot of other clubs in the Netherlands are jealous of how it goes here." I don't know too much about Hofs, but so far, I like the cut of his jib.
Hofs also broaches the growing sentiment among some Vitesse supporters that the club will risk losing its identity as Chelsea becomes more involved with the club (from what I understand, most Vitesse supporters aren't facing an identity crisis, as it were, but it is a very real fear among some supporters).
"Total nonsense" says Hofs. Tell it like it is, fella.
When Bertrand Traore gets his paperwork sorted out, there will be four Chelsea loanees in the Vitesse starting lineup. That means that there will still be seven Vitesse players who aren't directly connected to Chelsea. In addition, van Aanholt is Dutch, so he still fits in with the increasingly archaic notion of what a Vitesse player should be.
An Eredivisie title and Champions League football will likely go a long way towards assuaging lingering fears, so hopefully this won't be an issue for too much longer.
Bertrand Traore's work permit situation
One of the many reasons why Chelsea sought to form a partnership with Vitesse is the relatively easy ability for our youngsters to secure Dutch work permits. In Bertrand Traore's case, however, it's proving a bit difficult. He easily meets all the requirements, but still needs to get the paperwork finalised at an embassy.
There is no Dutch embassy in his native Burkina Faso, and Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reports that Traore is in neighbouring Mali trying to get everything squared away. Mali is extremely unsettled at the moment (to say the least) and it doesn't make sense to me why Traore was sent to Mali when there is a perfectly good Burkinabe embassy in Brussels (a mere two hours and eleven minutes away from Arnhem).
I imagine the trip to Mali is due to the fact that it is a Dutch embassy that has whatever Traore needs, rather than a Burkinabe embassy. Further, said embassy must be equipped to deal with Burkinabe issues, and since the Dutch embassy in Burkina Faso is closed (likely due to financial reasons, rather than any diplomatic fallout between the two countries), Burkinabe-Dutch issues are likely addressed at the nearest embassy, which happens to be in Mali.
One might ask why traveling to an embassy is even necessary when Traore is already in the Netherlands, and it is also a bit strange that this wasn't squared away prior to Traore joining Vitesse or during the winter break when the travel visas to the UAE were getting sorted.
I don't fully understand the situation, but hopefully Traore will be available to play soon (rumblings out of the Netherlands seem to indicate that the matter should be sorted by Thursday, but if that's true, then it's still difficult to say whether he'd be available to play on Sunday).
An invitation from our Cobham East cousins
Our Cobham East cousins have kindly extended us an invitation to join their online community. They have a very active supporters' forum and invited us all for a chat. If you decide to take them up on their offer, just keep in mind that it's primarily a Dutch-language forum. Unless you speak Dutch, be sure to use the English-language section of the forum. I had been lurking on the forum for months (with the help of Google Translate and some very limited Dutch language skills) and only recently started participating, but it's a great group of lads and they have definitely helped me get a better understanding of the club.
Last, but certainly not least, Lucas Piazon turned twenty yesterday, and a belated happy birthday to him from all of us here at WAGNH!