European Football

PSV may struggle to keep their table-toppers together

PSV (800x564)
PSV Eindhoven are the winter champions in the Netherlands, topping the Eredivisie by four points with title holders Ajax in second place. Such is the reduced status of Dutch football these days that PSV may be vulnerable to losing some of the players who have taken them to the summit this season.

Players like full back Jetro Willems, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and winger Memphis Depay have been attracting a lot of attention from some of Europe’s bigger clubs, including the likes of Dutch-centric Manchester United.

However, PSV coach Phillip Cocu has publically stated that he expects all three to remain at PSV through to the summer. One player who looks set to leave is the exciting Zakaria Bakkali, who has been courted by a host of English Premier clubs, including United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea. It could be that the Belgian winger may end up at Stoke City, of all places.

Memphis Depay is probably the most sought after of the PSV trio and there seems to be a game of cat and mouse developing over the player’s future. He signed a new contract in August and PSV have said “forget it” when responding to tentative enquiries by Louis Van Gaal. But there have also been subsequent comments that suggest PSV are resigned to losing him.

PSV’S form has surprised a few people but they are deserved leaders. They shocked Ajax at the Arena in August by winning 3-1, their first victory in Amsterdam for six years. And it has just steamrollered from there, with just two defeats in 17 games and a run of 10 games to Christmas unbeaten. As well as beating Ajax, they’ve also beaten third-placed Feyenoord 4-3.

Another big plus for PSV has been the form of Luuk de Jong, a EUR 5.5m signing from Borussia Moenchengladbach in the summer. De Jong didn’t quite cut it in Germany or in England with Newcastle, but he’s scored 10 league goals this season, including a hat-trick against Feyenoord.

PSV are also still in the Europa League and will face Zenit St. Petersburg of Russia in the last 32.

If PSV do maintain their form and win the title, it will be their first since 2007-08. Last season, they finished fourth in the Eredivisie, their lowest position for some years. The signs are promising, but it’s a long long way from the club’s golden years in the 1980s when Gus Hiddink led them to the European Cup in 1988.

PSV went into the Christmas and New Year break in fine style, beating Go Ahead Eagles 5-0 at the Philips Stadion. After the match, Cocu told the media he was confident that his team could continue their first half of the season form into the New Year. “Our players have the quality to do so,” he insisted. “I’ve said it before, we win as a team and we need to stay together.”

Ajax’s four-year hold on the Eredivisie title may just be coming to an end.

Games to watch out for in 2015:
January 25: Ajax v Feyenoord
March 1: PSV v Ajax
March 22: Feyenoord v PSV

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