Eredivisie Season Review: 2011-2012

20 Jun

Although we haven’t tracked it throughout the year, I’ve been asked a few questions on the Dutch League, so figured it’d be interesting to have a look at it now that the season is over. I’ll admit to not watching a great deal of this league, so with that in mind, i’ll present the stats in a slightly lighter (or is that Liter?) version of the season review

The 2011-12 season saw a familiar look at the top of the table -Ajax won (for the 31st time), Feyenoord finished 2nd and PSV finished 3rd. Big deal, what’s new I hear you say. Well it’s actually the first time that the big three have finished in the Top 3 in seven seasons (Feyenoord finished 10th last year and lost 10-0 to PSV along the way) after AZ, Twente and even NAC gatecrashed the party. Ajax were the deserved champions with the most wins, least defeats, most goals and one of the best defences (behind AZ), so can we expect to see the Average Opposition stats to weigh favourably in their favour? Well no, not necessarily.

First up is the player stats – who were the big game players, and most important to their team?


Goals versus Top 5

The first measure to determine who the big game players were is to see how they did against the top opponents in the league. Unlike the elite leagues in England, Spain and Italy, there’s only 18 teams in the Dutch top flight, as a result, I’ve changed the range from Top 6-Mid 8-Bottom 6 to 5-8-5.

And there’s only one place to start, or more specifically, one family – the de Jong family. As if to try and prove that the big game mentality is something to do with upbringing and surroundings, the two brothers have each been very impressive against the Top 5 teams. Luuk de Jong, 21 (the younger of the two brothers), scored a very decent 25 goals last season for Steve McClaren’s free scoring FC Twente and as you can see above, seven of them were against the big teams. And taking into account Twente’s 6th placed finish, this meant that he did so in a maximum of 10 games. Bearing in mind his age, he’s surely one to look out for in the future.


Interestingly, his older brother Siem (23) also excelled against the other Top 5 teams. Playing for Champions Ajax in a slightly deeper attacking role, the Swiss born youngster (they moved to Holland aged 4 and 6 respectively) scored four of his 13 league goals against the best teams with one against title rivals PSV and a hat trick away at 5th placed Heerenveen. It certainly does raise an interesting point in what makes a player cope better in a big game – they had the same upbringing, and despite being at different clubs, they both thrive in the big games.

Roda’s Malki also hit 25 goals last season, six of which were against the Top 5 teams. What’s impressive about his performance is that his team finished in the bottom half of the table (10th). The league’s top scorer was Heerenveen’s Bas Dost with a whopping 32 goals. There’s hope in Holland that he could become the next great goal scorer, and Wolfsburg have moved quickly to sign the big front man (6ft 5 apparently). He’s only 23 so the signs look promising, but in terms of prolific strikers in the Eredivisie, for every van Nistelrooy, Makaay and Kluivert, there’s an Alfonso Alves, Dirk Kuyt (did well for Liverpool but was in no way prolific) and Mateja Kezman. It’ll be interesting to follow his progress next season. His 32 goals contained 5 against the four teams above.

Honourable Mention to – Utrecht’s French forward Edouard Duplan. The fans player of the year has never been prolific but steps up for the big games. Five of his seven goals were against the Top 5 teams, and just to illustrate his dislike of playing the dross at the bottom, he didn’t score one goal against the Bottom 5 teams.

Highest Average Opposition – Jozy Altidore, 8.60

I’ll be completely honest, based my memory of Jozy Altidore’s time at Hull City, I’m left with one of two conclusions. Either the Dutch Top Flight has got a lot weaker, or that the USA International has got a lot better. A quick check of the official stats backs up what I recall from memory – he scored just one league goal all season, back in 2009-10. Since then, he three league games for Villarreal and 12 for Bursaspor, managing one league goal. So it’s with some surprise that I saw his name next to 15 goals, and that he’s the big game player from an Average Opposition perspective.

Looking at all of the players with 10 goals or more, it’s the big American that leads the way quite comfortably. A third of his goals have come against the Top 5, including goals both home and away against PSV Eindhoven, whilst of the mid table opponents he scored against, there was a brace against 6th placed Twente. The worst team he scored against was 16th placed VVV. So whether it’s the fact that he’s improved (possible given he was only 21 in his debut season in England) or that the Dutch league has got a little weaker, one thing is for sure, he’s enjoyed the best season of his career.

The next name on the list will interest Man City fans. John Guidetti is on loan from the Premier League champions to Feyenoord, and despite an injury ravaged season, the 20 year old Swede scored an incredible 20 league goals in just 23 appearances. And included in that run was a four match spell that saw three hat tricks, including a decisive one in a 4-2 win over eventual Champions, Ajax. Whilst they were the only goals against the Top 5 teams, he regularly scored against the higher ended mid table clubs, with another hat trick against Twente (6th), and also goals against 7th placed Vitesse (5 in two game), to help push his average up.

Flat Track Bullies?

At the other end of the scale, the player with the worst average ranked opponent per goal was NEC’s Lasse Schone with 13.55. Of his 11 goals, none of them were against the Top 5 teams as he specialised in scoring against teams in the bottom half of the table. To be fair to the Danish international, he was playing in midfield so 11 goals is a good achievement. It doesn’t appear to have put of Ajax either as the Amsterdam club have allowed him a chance to emulate his hero Michael Laudrup.

Schone was the only player not to bother the Top teams in terms of scoring for those with 10 goals and more. That’s not to say that he was the only Flat Track Bully. Whilst Bas Dost had a great season, he scored 14 of his goals against the Bottom 5 teams, leading to his low average of 12.13, which is far and away the highest number in the league.

Bremen Bound – Bas Dost

Most Valuable Goals – Bas Dost, 20 points

No great surprise that the player who scored the most goals won the most points, but it’s not always the case – Zlatan Ibrahimovic top scored in Serie A but only won 9 points. Bas Dosts’ 32 goals were worth a very decent 20 points as Heerenveen jumped from 12th in 2010-11 to 5th and a Europa League spot.

Whilst Dost won the most outright points, it was Sanharib Malki who was most important to his team. His 25 goals won Roda 14 points which was 31.82% of their total 44. The Syrian International is another who really made the step up in quality this season, with very little of note beforehand.

Elsehwere, Guidetti’s goals were worth 13 points, whilst Everton and Texeira both won more points than goals scored, for Heracles and Groningen respectively.

Pointless goals? Ajax wonderkid Christian Eriksen hit 7 goals, none of which were decisive for the Amsterdam giants. After a lightly disappointing European Championships, he’ll be looking to make more of an impact in the coming season.

Team Stats

So after seeing impressive performances from the De Jong’s, Bas Dost and Jozy Altidore here’s the team stats for your viewing pleasure:

Clean Sheets:

  • Eight teams failed to keep a clean sheet against the Top 5 teams
  • AZ kept the most clean sheets (15), whilst Utrecht had the best average opposition per shut out with 7.83
  • FC Groningen kept the most clean sheets against the Top 5 teams with three

Goals Scored:

  • Ajax top scored with 93 goals, against an average ranked opponent of 10.41
  • FC Twente scored the most goals against the Top 5 teams with 24 strikes
  • PSV were the flat track bullies with the most goals against the Bottom 5 teams (29)

Goals Conceded:

  • AZ Alkmaar not only had the most clean sheets, but the least goals conceded (35)
  • Champions Ajax conceded the fewest against fellow Top 5 teams with just 11
  • AZ and NEC only conceded 2 goals each against the bottom teams, whilst FC Utrecht and De Graafschap each conceded 14.

Games Won:

  • Ajax unsurprisingly won the most games with 23, whilst relegated Excelsior won just 4 games
  • Four teams failed to beat a Top 5 opponent
  • Feyenoord and PSV had the most wins against the Top 5

Games Lost:

  • Heerenveen had a quite remarkable average opposition of 2.67 for each of their 6 league defeats. They lost twice to Ajax (1st), once to Feyenoord (2nd), twice to PSV (3rd) and once to Twente (6th).
  • Ajax had the least defeats with just 4, and only one against the Top 5 teams (4-2 to Feyenoord)
  • Heracles, Roda and VVV all lost three games to the Bottom 5 teams

Failure to Score:

  • Ajax (along with Heerenveen and Twente) only failed to score in two games, but those opponents were Groningen (14th) and Utrecht (11th), meaning they had the worst ranked opponent in terms of failure to score against
  • Excelsior failed to score in 50% of their games and were one of four teams to fail against the Top 5, on five occasions
  • FC Twente had the highest ranked opponent per shut out, with 4.50


In Conclusion:

So there you have it, Ajax were deserved Champions this season, whilst Twente were the best team to watch, and Heerenveen only struggled against good opposition. In terms of players, Heerenveen are going to greatly miss Bas Dost (who we’ll be tracking in the weekly Bundesliga update), whilst surprisingly Jozy Altidore is a man for the big occasions, along with Luuk De Jong.

If you have any questions or queries on any of the above, please post a comment or e-mail me.



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