As has become standard operating procedure for Vitesse Arnhem, the club got off to a fast start today against PEC Zwolle, only to fall apart in dramatic fashion in the final minutes.
Vitesse went up in the 24th minute after Davy Propper put one in the left corner from the top of the box and was, by far, the better team in the first half.
However, the momentum started to shift in the second half at around the sixty minute mark. Zwolle had just played a Europa League match against Sparta Prague on Thursday, but you'd never know it, as they found the energy to run all over Vitesse in the final half hour.
Zwolle's centreback Maikel van der Werff converted a free-kick with the help of a deflection to level the match at one-all in the 64th minute, and Vitesse never recovered. From then, Zwolle was extremely aggressive in trying to find a second goal and it never allowed Vitesse to get off their back foot. In the 89th minute, Zwolle's Stef Nijland took advantage of a defensive miscue from Jan-Arie van der Heijden and buried one past Eloy Room (it's unlikely that even Thibaut Courtois could've saved Nijland's shot, but it's worth mentioning that Room is Vitesse's backup goalkeeper, and got the start after Piet Velthuizen missed the match for personal reasons).
As noted by the excellent @chelseayouth, Vitesse has conceded in the last five minutes in each of its last five matches, and unfortunately, this sort of collapse is nothing new.
To make matters worse, Bertrand Traore was injured around the half-hour mark and had to come off. He joins fellow Chelsea loanee Wallace on the physio table. Wallace picked up a knock at training earlier in the week and was unavailable for selection today.
The one bright spot on the day was Josh McEachran making his Vitesse debut. He got around twenty minutes and played in a holding midfield role. He had a fairly quiet outing, and I'd be a little surprised to see McEachran in that holding position on a regular basis (given that Vitesse already has defensive issues, it seems like McEachran would be better suited in a central attacking role).
Other assorted notes from the match -
- Jan-Arie van der Heijden, one of Vitesse's "centrebacks," is very frustrating.
- Zakaria Labyad, the twenty-one year old winger on loan from Sporting, is very good.
- Eredivisie referees are much more lenient than their Premier League counterparts. A few minutes before the half, there was some significant shoving from players on both clubs, and one particularly egregious forecheck from a Zwolle player, but both clubs escaped relatively unscathed, with just a yellow card apiece. In the Premier League, that forecheck would have easily been a straight red.
- Manager Peter Bosz might want to think about switching it up, whether it be a formation change, an appeal to ownership to buy a striker and some defensive help, or doing something different in training. Vitesse hasn't won in five and a half months (dating back to 8 March), and it certainly won't hurt to try something new.