Groningen, Heerenveen target revival
FC Groningen coach Pieter Huistra is refusing to panic despite a string of defeats which have seen his side slip to fifth in the Eredivisie table. Groningen have lost three games in a row including the 4-1 defeat at home to Heracles last weekend.
That has allowed ADO Den Haag to climb above them into fourth, while there is an eight-point gap to Ajax, who occupy the only automatic UEFA Europa League spot in third. "Right now it is important to remain calm and to continue to analyse the matter clearly," Huistra said.
"We must, however, do something. Yes, I look at myself in the mirror and see things which I could have tackled differently. This is a decisive stage in the season. The first objective is to win a match again. Despite three defeats, we are still good." This weekend, Groningen face a tricky trip to Utrecht who drew 1-1 with Roda JC last Sunday.
Elsewhere, Heerenveen travel to Vitesse, and striker Oussama Assaidi will be hoping to get on the score sheet after failing to deliver against Feyenoord. The Moroccan forward issued an apology to coach Ron Jans after last weekend's 1-0 home defeat. "Sorry coach, I did not score," he said after several chances went begging. "I'm fed up that I have not finished it."
However, Jans publicly backed his striker and praised the rest of the team. "Anybody can miss an opportunity," he said. "[The game against Feyenoord] was the best game of the season. The way we played football was fantastic and the guys have fought with a lion's heart." It was high praise from the Heerenveen coach after the 6-2 hammering of reigning champions FC Twente earlier in the season.
In the other games, leaders PSV Eindhoven travel to NEC Nijmegen where they will hope to extend the gap at the top following last weekend's last-gasp win over Excelsior. Twente are three points behind PSV in second place and will be looking to maintain the pressure against second-bottom VVV-Venlo.
Basement club Willem II host third-placed Ajax, who will be hoping to continue their goalscoring form following their 4-0 thumping of AZ Alkmaar last Sunday. AZ travel to Roda JC, who are just two points behind their sixth-placed rivals after last weekend's draw whilst Feyenoord host NAC Breda.
In the other games of the weekend, mid-table Heracles take on Excelsior and De Graafschap play ADO Den Haag.