Ajax ready for AZ, McClaren returns
Ajax sit in fourth place, five points behind AZ, and it will be their second game against them in three days after the teams meet in the rescheduled KNVB Beker tie tonight.
De Boer believes his side must pick up three points or face disappointment in the title race. "Our focus is on the league title," De Boer told the club's website. "If we want to challenge for the league, then we must win."
De Boer has also revealed he will not risk the fitness of Lorenzo Ebecilio or right-back Gregory van der Wiel in today's game and instead will rest them for Sunday's league clash.
"Van der Wiel would have been able to play on Thursday, but we would prefer to wait and make sure he is fresh for Sunday - the league is more important for us," he said. "I won't take any risks with them."
Alkmaar could extend their lead over Ajax to eight points with a win. Second-placed PSV Eindhoven sit one point behind AZ and travel to Utrecht, who have failed to win any of their last five Eredivisie games. Despite this, PSV coach Fred Rutten has called on his players not to underestimate the side who sit in 14th place.
"The awareness must remain in the team," he said. "We know this team has very good players. Sometimes you play football but sometimes you have to fight. Playing a nice game alone is not enough as we showed in the last cup game against FC Twente."
McClaren makes return
PSV have only lost once in their last five games. Steve McClaren will lead FC Twente in the league for the first time since his return to the club against RKC Waalwijk.
McClaren left Twente to join German outfit Wolfsburg in 2010 but lasted ten matches before moving to Nottingham Forest. After a torrid time at the City Ground, McClaren has now returned to Enschede, and said that his side can win the Eredivisie.
"FC Twente are one of five teams who can win the title," the former England manager said. "We need to begin with a good result against RKC to show our intentions."
VVV Venlo play host to Feyenoord and will hope the winter break has changed their fortunes. Venlo won one in the last six matches before the break and are in the relegation play-off places.
Feyenoord were flying before the winter break and sit fifth in the table after going five games unbeaten, including an impressive 3-2 win over rivals FC Twente.
Bottom side Excelsior are looking to start the second half of the season in a more positive light, as they face NAC Breda at home. Excelsior have won one game all season and are nine points from guaranteed safety.
Sixth-placed Vitesse aim to preserve their good form with a home fixture against NEC Nijmegen. Vitesse were unbeaten in four before the break and NEC are looking to avenge their 1-0 home defeat to Vitesse back in October.
In tomorrow evening's fixture, ADO Den Haag could leapfrog Roda JC with a win. Den Haag are 11th and Roda are ninth, and Roda's away form has been particularly poor. They scored six goals and conceded 23 in their eight away games before the winter break.
FC Groningen are looking to continue their three-game unbeaten run against Heracles while De Graafschap play host to Heerenveen.