In the six games since returning from the winter break, Vitesse has earned a mere six points and have scored only four goals.
I'm at a bit of a loss as to why the club has struggled so much. The club had a seemingly good mix of rest and training over the break, with everyone being permitted to enjoy the holidays at home with their families prior to a week's training in Abu Dhabi. Fatigue shouldn't be an issue, especially when considering that the Eredivisie is the only competition Vitesse has played in since getting knocked out of the domestic cup back in December.
Part of the reason for Vitesse's struggles is likely due to their heavy reliance on Lucas Piazon to create goalscoring opportunities. Piazon hasn't been the same since returning from the winter break.
* 2013 stats (16 games) - 11 goals, 8 assists
* 2014 stats (6 games) - 0 goals, 0 assists
To be clear, Lucas Piazon is not any more to blame for Vitesse's struggles than his teammates. There are eighteen players on the team sheet, and the entire team is responsible for both the successes and failures of the club.
In addition, if you watch Vitesse, you'll have noticed that nine of the ten outfield players are focused more on offense than defence, and no one has been able to step up. The fullbacks play like wingbacks, the "defensive midfielders" rarely just sit back and absorb pressure, and Jan-Arie van der Heijden graduated from the David Luiz School of Centrebacking (and who want to learn to do other good stuff too).
There has been some woeful defending at the centreback position, the striker problem remains unsolved, and excepting Christian Atsu (a pleasant surprise this season and one of Vitesse's most consistent players) and perhaps Davy Propper (who has done an admirable job attempting to fill Marco van Ginkel's large boots), there is plenty of blame to go around.
Vitesse loses 2-0 against Twente
The match overlapped a bit with the Chelsea - Manchester City FA Cup match, so admittedly, I only had one eye on Vitesse. Lucas Piazon, Christian Atsu, and Patrick van Aanholt started, while Bertrand Traore was back on the bench after starting ahead of Mike Havenaar the previous week.
The match was scoreless at the half, thanks to some terrific goalkeeping by Piet Velthuizen. As has unfortunately become the standard over the past few months, Vitesse was very quiet offensively.
In the second half, after some shoddy defending up the middle, Twente's Luc Castaignos was sprung and was able to put the ball into the back of the net.
With about thirty minutes to go, Patrick van Aanholt was sent off for a two-footed tackle from behind. He'll miss the next two matches. Shortly thereafter, Piazon and Atsu were subbed off, and Traore came on for a quiet twenty-minute cameo.
With Vitesse down to ten men, Dušan Tadić chipped Velthuizen to put Twente up 2-0 to seal the win for the Enschede club. Of note, this was the second time in three matches that Velthuizen was chipped.
As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. Poor day of football for both Chelsea and Vitesse.
Despite Vitesse's struggles, the club is still only four points out of second place, which comes with a berth into the third qualifying round of the Champions League (if Vitesse finishes second, they would have to beat two other teams in order to make it to the group stages). While the title looks doubtful, if Vitesse can regain its 2013 form, eight points can certainly be made up over the course of ten matches.
KNVB will not change its loan rules
As the partnership between Chelsea and Vitesse has grown (and has Vitesse has become more successful), there has been an increasingly loud clamor for loan reform in the Netherlands. Specifically, clubs have asked the KNVB (Dutch FA) to limit the number of foreign loans to three players per club. Unsurprisingly, the loudest noise has come from Carlos Aalbers, the technical director of Vitesse's biggest rival, NEC.
Of course, this is all just sour grapes and fortunately, the KNVB was able to see it for what is its. As Stef de Bont reported, the KNVB will not be making any changes to its loan rules in the immediate future. This is great news, as the two clubs will remain free to grow the partnership as they see fit.
Vitesse's roster set for a major overhaul
Vitesse only has thirteen players under contract for next season and there will likely be some major changes to the squad next season.
Chelsea will likely send Vitesse some of its better prospects and I'm sure a youngster or two will be purchased this summer and sent to Arnhem. However, unless the partnership takes a major leap forward and half the club is made up of Chelsea loanees, Vitesse will have a lot of shopping of its own to do this summer.
Want to play for Vitesse?
Well, probably not you, but perhaps your younger brother or your son might have a shot. The club is looking to bolster its academy and is holding open trials for lads aged 6-13. If you know any youngsters who might be interested in becoming the next Marco van Ginkel, tell them to grab their boots and get over to Arnhem on one of the many Wednesdays the club is holding trials. Details can be found here.
Vitesse next plays on Sunday afternoon at the Gelredome against RKC Waalwijk, and hopefully the club will be able to get back on track.