Despite having an unbeaten record against Ajax in the last two Eredivisie seasons (two wins, two draws), Vitesse lost 4-1 to the defending champions in the Eredivisie opener two weekends ago. The club followed up with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Cambuur, leaving the club with just one point to show for its first two matches.
While the Ajax score looks ugly, Vitesse actually had more shots and more possession than Ajax, and the scoreline doesn't accurately reflect the match. This past weekend, Vitesse was leading 2-1 in the late stages, thanks to a Zakaria Labyad brace, but as has become standard operating procedure for Vitesse, a defensive lapse cost them the win. A failed corner clearance allowed Cambuur to steal a point at the Gelredome, and Vitesse is now sitting on a streak of eleven competitive matches without a win, dating back to last season.
Match highlights from 4-1 loss to Ajax
Match highlights from 2-2 draw with Cambuur
Bertrand Traore and Wallace started both matches, at right wing and right back, respectively. Wallace has impressed, with a high work rate and aggressive one-on-one defending. On the offensive side, his decision-making with regards to passing is a bit suspect, but he's shown a willingness (even an enthusiasm) to take on defenders. As a result of his pace and rather direct approach, he's been fouled seven times in the first two matches
Wallace already seems to have good communication with Traore, and I noticed several times that when Traore cuts inside, Wallace instinctively overlaps, and the passing between the two has been positive.
Expectations are much higher for Traore, and he's been solid so far on the wing. He's definitely not been afraid to shoot, and as Renato Ibarra appears to be working his way back to fitness after taking a much-needed rest after playing in the World Cup with Ecuador, I'd like to see Traore get some run as the lone striker.
Ibarra should slot back into his natural position on the right wing, freeing up Traore, and Vitesse has badly needed a reliable striker since Wilfried Bony was sold to Swansea last summer. Traore could also shift to a central attacking position, but that'd obviously put him in direct competition with Josh McEachran (and I suspect Traore would win that competition handily).
Next up for Vitesse is Sunday's match against Zwolle, and the game will be shown live on Sky Sports 5 at 11.30 BST.
Arnhem mourns the passing of an Airborne hero
The more I learn about the club and the city's relationship with, and continued appreciation of the British 1st Airborne Division, the more I respect them.
We've previously written about the club's special connection with the 1st Airbone, and will continue to do, as it cannot be understated how important it is to remember the service and sacrifice of those brave individuals, nor can it be understated how rare it is for an entire city to fully recognise and embrace that importance.
Earlier this month, a man called Johnny Peters passed away at the age of ninety-one. Peters, a native Liverpudlian, lived a full life, had four children, and lots of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Seventy years ago next month, Peters was part of the Airborne unit that fought valiantly in the Battle of Arnhem, and the bonds he formed with the people of Arnhem, and they with he, have endured.
Peters, who enlisted on his eighteenth birthday, had spent three years fighting prior to the Battle of Arnhem. By that time, he was a twenty-one year old sniper. He was one of the first out of the planes and was tasked with securing drop zones for the next waves of paratroopers.
Of the fourteen men in his platoon, only one other soldier survived the battle. Peters had travelled back to Arnhem every year since 1972 to remember his fellow soldiers and the city has welcomed him back with open arms each year.
Arnhem citizens sent thousands of messages of condolence for Peters' passing, and a profound appreciation for his service, across the various social media platforms.
Bev Harden, the daughter of a fellow paratrooper who fought at Arnhem wrote:
My dad, Wilf Oldham, had his 90th birthday at the end of August 2010, and we had a party for him. People came from far and wide, including his Dutch 'family' and friends from Holland. Johnny Peters also came to the party, and it was an honour to meet him.
I have heard Dad speak warmly about him on many occasions. Johnny gave a speech at the party - one that moved me to tears, and gave me a little bit more insight into why such bonds endure over the years.
Two years ago, Peters was at the Gelredome watching Vitesse, and after the match, captain Guram Kashia went over to Peters to express his thanks for coming to the match, gave him his shirt (which Peters donated to the Airborne museum in Cambridge), stood at what we'll loosely call attention, and saluted Peters. When asked about it, Kashia simply said "I want to show them respect, they are heroes."*
A year later, on the match commemorating the anniversary of the battle, the Vitesse supporters unveiled a banner capturing the moment between Peters and Kashia.
* For any US Marines or soldiers reading, maybe they do things differently in Europe, and the gesture was clearly intended, and received, as a sign of respect.
Josh McEachran joins Vitesse
Earlier this week, Josh McEachran joined Vitesse on a season-long loan. He projects to compete for the central attacking midfield position in Peter Bosz's 4-2-3-1 formation, and he sat down with Vitesse TV the other day to sharesome thoughts on Vitesse, his previous loans, and where he envisions himself in the Vitesse lineup.
Lastly, for those wanting more English-language Eredivisie coverage, Peter McVitie and Michiel Jongsma have started a weekly podcast covering all things Eredivisie. They're only a few episodes in, and it's already fantastic, so I urge you to give them a listen. You can download the podcast on BeNeFoot, and it's also available on iTunes.