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PSV Eindhoven 5/1 for unbeaten season

What a difference a year makes. 

At the start of last season, PSV Eindhoven were preparing for a maiden campaign under former striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, while Ajax were preparing for life not just without Erik ten Hag, but also Ryan Gravenberch, Sebastien Haller, Lisandro Martinez, Antony, Daley Blind, Noussair Mazraoui and more. 

Feyenoord, too, had lost players with loanees departing as well as Tyrell Malacia and Luis Sinisterra.

The overhaul was too much for Ajax but not Feyenoord. 

A post-World Cup winning run of 13 games was enough for Arne Slot’s men to win a 16th Eredivisie title and a second since 1999. In falling short, Van Nistelrooy left his post while Ajax went seven games without a win, costing Alfred Schreuder his job.

Ajax have since had five men in the dugout, while Feyenoord actually have one point more than they did at this stage last season.

Not that it matters; barring an almighty collapse, PSV will win the title this season. The title race isn’t what’s interesting in the Netherlands, however; there’s a little more at stake than that.

Only Ajax have completed an unbeaten Eredivisie season and it’s a slice of Dutch footballing history that PSV would like a piece of. 

While Bayer Leverkusen are taking the headlines in Germany as the only unbeaten side in Europe’s top five leagues, PSV went one better, winning all 17 games at the halfway mark, and it’s a 5/1 shot they can finish with a 0 in the losses column.

Eredivisie 23/24

bet365’s Steve Freeth said: “PSV have already equalled their own Eredivisie record from the 1987/88 campaign when Guus Hiddink guided them to maximum points from the opening 17 games on the way to lifting the title.

“He went on to lose just two league matches in what turned out to be the best season in PSV’s history with them winning the title comfortably and Peter Bosz’s side look ideally placed to do just that.

“Ajax might need more than Jordan Henderson to stop this run when they meet at the start of February!”

The legendary Ajax team of 1971/72 won 26 straight matches en route to a treble of Eredivisie, KNVB Cup and European Cup, led by the talismanic Johan Cryuff as Total Football took hold. 

Ajax fell one short of their own record in 1994/95 under Louis van Gaal, though his side would complete the second undefeated season in Dutch football history, winning a league and Champions League double. 

For a while it was looking like PSV could run them close, but the surprise draw at Utrecht at the weekend put paid to that notion, though the unbeaten season remains on the cards.

They do have an upcoming trip to Amsterdam to face Ajax however, as well as a home game with defending champions Feyenoord that they must navigate if they want to keep the zero intact, but it’s certainly not beyond them.

Incidentally, it’s former Ajax manager Peter Bosz at the helm. Bosz finished his only season at the Johan Cruyff Arena trophyless, but earned a move to Borussia Dortmund the following campaign.

The move was short-lived, however, with Bosz sacked before Christmas, then moving to Bayer Leverkusen 12 months later. While Bosz guided Leverkusen into the Champions League places, a poor run of form a couple of years later saw him dismissed before heading to France for a year-long stint with Lyon.

Bosz returned to the Netherlands with his brand of attacking, counter-pressing football and is deploying it to great effect.

The 57-year-old has his side defending as a unit and attacking in numbers, and it’s produced a goals tally of 59-7 equating to a goal difference per game of just over 3.0.

They’re blowing rivals away in terms of their goalscoring prowess, scoring four or more goals in nearly half of their games (including five against Ajax), and they have a familiar face leading the line…

The Eredivisie may be the most high risk/high reward place to buy a striker from. The Premier League has been graced with the likes of Robin van Persie, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Luis Suarez; it’s also seen Vincent Janssen (from 27 goals in 34 AZ Alkmaar games to two goals in 31 Tottenham games), Afonso Alves (from 45 goals in 39 Heerenveen games to 10 goals in 42 Middlesbrough games (four of which came on the last day of the 2007/08 season against Manchester City)) and Jozy Altidore (from 39 goals in 67 AZ Alkmaar games to 1 in 42 Sunderland games). 

Newcastle fans may recall Luuk de Jong’s brief loan spell on Tyneside a decade ago, and he’s very much another player whose best form has come in the Netherlands. 

His 25-goal campaign with Twente earned a move to Borussia Monchengladbach where he’d score six times in 36 appearances, moving back to the Eredivisie with PSV where he scored 94 goals in 159 games. 

Three years in Spain with Sevilla and Barcelona produced a return of 16 in 90. Sure enough, he’s started to find the net in his native Holland once again.

He bagged 14 in 24 last season and is almost notching at a goal a game this term with 15 in 17 with the 33-year-old surely firing PSV to the title. 

Remarkably, despite scoring nearly a goal a game, there are two forwards – Santiago Gimenez and Vangelis Pavlidis – comfortably ahead of him in the top scorer charts.

De Jong won’t be too concerned by that, however – he should be lifting a bigger piece of silverware come May.

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