Vitesse Arnhem is officially back.
After going winless for a six month period between March and September, Vitesse has taken thirteen of a possible fifteen points over the last five games, and has done so in an authoritative fashion.
Over the last five matches, Vitesse has outscored their opponents 20 to 6. In the past three matches alone, the club has scored 16 goals, with back-to-back six goal efforts against Dordrecht and ADO Den Haag and this weekend's 4-1 victory over Willem II.
Despite earning just one point in the first four matches of the Eredivisie season, Vitesse now finds itself just three points away from second place and a qualifying spot in next season's Champions League.
Vitesse's recent success comes down to the club not being dependent on one player for scoring. Last season, the club was at the top of the league when Chelsea's own Lucas Piazon was firing on all cylinders. However, once Piazon's form dropped off, so too did the team.
This season, seven players have already scored multiple times and Vitesse may have finally found its first dependable striker since Wilfried Bony left for Swansea fifteen months ago.
Twenty-six year old Abiola Dauda has come out of nowhere (okay, not nowhere, but Red Star Belgrade) to score five goals (all from open play) and notch three assists in just 438 minutes. He can score with his left foot, his right foot, and his head, and this is an incredible scoring rate (non-penalty goals and assists) of 1.64 per 90 minutes. Dauda has never featured for his home country of Nigeria, and I have no idea how Vitesse found him, but he's already made the £400k transfer fee they paid for his services look like a stroke of genius.
Bertrand Traore and Wallace are firmly entrenched on the right flank, and remain automatic selections in Peter Bosz' starting eleven. Wallace has played in 625 of the 630 minutes he's been available for (he missed two games earlier in the season with an injury), and Traore has established himself as the number-one choice at right wing, leaving Ecuadorian international Renato Ibarra on the bench.
As an aside, Ibarra has been a bit unlucky thus far, as he's a very good player who has been stuck playing with the reserves to keep up his match fitness. He required an extended break after playing with Ecuador at the World Cup this summer, and once he made his way back, Traore, Zakaria Labyad, Marko Vejinovic, Valeri Qazaishvili, and even Denis Oliynyk have surpassed Ibarra. While some of these players aren't in direct competition with Ibarra on the right wing, they all have some versatility in that they can play a number of positions, and room could easily be made for Ibarra if Peter Bosz needed him on the pitch.
As it stands now, however, all five of these players have been playing very well lately, and have combined for 12 goals and 9 assists.
Josh McEachran, meanwhile, has only played 36 Eredivisie minutes so far, and it appears very unlikely that he'll be supplanting Davy Propper (an Arnhem native and likely Vitesse's best player) or Kelvin Leerdam (a defensive player who has still managed to score ten goals since the start of last season and a Peter Bosz favourite) in central midfield anytime soon.
McEachran has been getting solid run with the reserves however, and has started five matches, playing the full 90 or close to it in each match. The reserves have won each match McEachran has played in, but he has yet to score or record an assist.
The Vitesse video team remains in top form and has produced this highlight package from this weekend's 4-1 victory over Willem II, featuring a Bertrand Traore goal.
Our good friend Peter McVitie has been producing an excellent podcast with Opta's Michiel Jongsma covering the Eredivisie in the English language. It's a must-listen for anyone who's interested in expert and thoroughly entertaining discussions on all things Dutch football. You can find them on iTunes or on BeNeFoot's website.