Ajax has to crawl out of the valley against rare opponent FC Emmen

Ajax will take on FC Emmen on Saturday and that is an important match in many respects. On Wednesday, the team from Amsterdam played a 2-2 draw against Vitesse, which meant the second loss of points in a row. It cost the team of trainer Alfred Schreuder the lead and PSV therefore seems to be entering the winter as the list leader. Due to Feyenoord’s victory on Thursday, Ajax even dropped to third place. The club will want to restore some good feeling before going into the mandatory stop and for that it needs to win a game that it has strangely rarely played.

In total, Ajax and FC Emmen only met each other five times in the Eredivisie. In 2018/2019 – the year in which Ajax made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League – the first meeting at the highest level took place. Both at home and away, the team from Amsterdam had little trouble with the team from Emmen that season. In-house, the first match ever against FC Emmen was won 5-0, while away it was won 2-5. It immediately meant Ajax’s only two goals against FC Emmen, because in the following seasons the record champion of the Netherlands managed to keep a clean sheet. How come the number of encounters between Ajax and FC Emmen is not an even number? During the season, which was interrupted due to the corona crisis, both teams met only once.

From the five matches played against FC Emmen, Ajax has managed to score the full fifteen points to date. In addition, the team has a goal difference of 24 goals for and 2 against. A convincing balance, especially considering that Ajax did not concede a single goal in the past three meetings. The last meeting dates from the 2020/2021 season, as FC Emmen relegated that season. Last season it therefore did not play in the Eredivisie, so that the counter of duels between the two teams then remained at five.

Shape of Ajax and FC Emmen

As far as the form is concerned, there is room for improvement at Ajax. Ajax played a 2-2 draw against Vitesse last Wednesday in a duel in which the finish and residual defense turned out not to be in order. Many opportunities were missed, while Vitesse cut through Ajax’s defensive organization like a hot knife through butter. A few days before, Ajax already had to deal with a huge blow, when PSV turned out to be too strong 1-2 in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. It led to chagrin among the Ajax fans, which only grew due to the result against Vitesse. The call for Schreuder’s departure grew during the last two duels mentioned, but for now it is still Erik ten Hag’s former assistant coach who waves the scepter.

FC Emmen, on the other hand, is recovering somewhat and has taken four points from the last five games. It won only one of the last ten games, but let that have just been the last game. Last weekend, Fortuna Sittard was put aside with 0-1. It only meant the second victory of the Eredivisie season, with which FC Emmen is in sixteenth place after thirteen games. However, the distance in the safe places is only two points, so a victory is also important for FC Emmen. Moreover, the low flyer will smell blood in the run-up to the match against Ajax. After all, in Richairo Zivkovic FC Emmen has a player who has the speed to expose Ajax’s defensive disorder.

Ajax backgrounds at FC Emmen

Incidentally, Zivkovic is not the only FC Emmen player with a past at Ajax. The striker was under contract in Amsterdam from the summer of 2014 to the summer of 2017. In the meantime he was loaned to successive Willem II and FC Utrecht. He has not yet missed an Eredivisie match on behalf of FC Emmen this season, but only scored for the first time against Fortuna Sittard. Another former Ajax player who is usually in the base of FC Emmen is Mickey van der Hart – active in Amsterdam from 2007 to 2014. He had to make do with a place on the bench for a long time this season, but since four games he has been the first keeper at the club from Drenthe. He only had to fish the ball out of his net three times during those duels.

The third FC Emmen player with an Ajax past is Lorenzo Burnet. He went through the youth academy of the club and closed the door behind him in 2011. After adventures in Slovakia and Denmark, he returned to the Netherlands in 2021. This season he is – if fit – the first left back of FC Emmen. Finally, Ajax’s opponent on Saturday also has Julius Dirksen under contract. He joined Ajax training in the summer of 2018 and in January 2022 he went for a new adventure. Dirksen has made eight minutes in the Eredivisie so far this season.

Setup Ajax

Looking at Ajax’s line-up, the question is again which eleven names Schreuder will send into the field per match. The biggest question will be the role of Daley Blind. He started on the bench three times in a row and only the last time – against Vitesse – was he allowed to come in. He clearly added quality to Ajax’s field play, provided an assist and sent Brian Brobbey into the depths with a chance. The young striker would eventually hit the post. The same Brobbey will hope for a starting place in Ajax’s last match in 2022. In the three Eredivisie matches that preceded Vitesse at home, he seemed to have secured a starting place – he scored four times – but after the defeat against PSV he lost his place in lost the point of the attack to Mohammed Kudus. Against PSV, however, he played the full ninety minutes for the first time and his role against Vitesse could also be based on physical reasons. The battle for the striker position during FC Emmen-away is open.

Jesse ter Haar (Twitter: @jesseterhaar | Email: [email protected])

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