BRENDAN WIMBERLY - Friday, February 21, 2014
Ajax killer Aron Johannsson looks to score in his third straight game against the Eredivisie leaders on Sunday when AZ travel to Amsterdam to take on Ajax.
FC Utrecht - Groningen
Juan Agudelo and his Utrecht team mates hope to gain some seperation from the relegation zone this weekend when they host Groningen.
Utrecht are currently in 15th place in the Eredivisie, with a loss they could slide down into the relegation playoffs. Utrecht have only picked up two points in the league since they beat 16th place NEC on December 6th.
Ninth place Groningen reversed their own recent travails last weekend, as their 1-0 win over Go Ahead Eagles was their first since they beat NEC a week after Utrecht, on December 13th.
Groningen beat Utrecht 2-0 on August 11th. Nick van der Velden netted a penalty and Richairo Zivkovic chipped in a late insurance goal to secure the result for Groningen.
Agudelo wasn't involved in that match however, and the young American striker has been impressive for his new team since moving over, via Stoke City, from the New England Revolution this winter. Agudelo assisted on the game tying goal as Utrecht were able to gut out a 1-1 tie against league leaders Ajax three weeks ago.
Cedric van der Gun, Edooard Dupan, Kenny Teijsse, and Adam Sarota are all out for Utrecht while Henk Bos is the only notable absentee for Groningen.
Ajax - AZ
Aron Johannsson and AZ are riding high into their big game with Ajax on Sunday after a win on the road in Europa League on Thursday.
AZ have looked great since the end of Holland's winter break, going 5-2-1 in the past month. Johannsson has found the back of the net in four of those eight games, bringing his tally up to 22 in all competitions this season.
With their recent good strech, AZ have nestled up to seventh place in the league, their highest position in weeks.
Meanwhile, Ajax have been holding onto the top position in the league for quite some time. Icelandic national team striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson leads the scoring race for Ajax, scoring eight Eredivisie goals so far this season.
These teams met twice earlier this season, with Ajax taking the Dutch Super Cup 3-2 over AZ on July 27th before AZ were able reverse that score line two weeks later, handing Ajax a 3-2 loss in the Eredivisie on August 11th. Johannsson scored for AZ in both those games.
Nemanja Gudelj is out serving a red card suspension for AZ, while Dirk Marcellis is still a ways away from making his return from a knee injury. South African Thulani Serero is hurt and unable to go for Ajax as is Nicolai Boilesen.
Willem II - Helmond Sport
Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond Sport look to build on last week's impressive performance against FC Oss against Willem II on Saturday.
Willem II figure to provide a much tougher task for the versatile Kazlauskas and his teammates. While Oss are dead last in the Eerste Divisie, Willem II are currently in second place, trailing Dordrecht by four points at the top.
Helmond have propelled themselves up to eighth place in the league with a nine game run in which they've only lost twice. Additionally, before their current run which spans all the way back to November, Helmond had dropped three games in a row.
Neither team are reporting any absences for the game.
Dion Watson has a chance to make the bench for Fortuna Sittard when they host Jong Twente on Friday...