Across the leagues of Europe there is a refreshing look to some of the top tables with the likes of Liverpool sat on the peak of the Premier League, whilst in Portugal at the time of writing Sporting Lisbon sit top for the first time in a long time. Even in the ever so predictable La Liga a Madrid team are on top, but this time around it is the proud stripes of Atletico. There is then a sense of change in the air as Christmas arrives, but none of these feats are as surprising as that of Vitesse Arnhem.
Vitesse currently sit joint-top of the Dutch Eredivisie having accumulated a wholesome tally of 37 points so far and are joint top goal scorers on 42. This is a remarkable feat having sold the imperious Wilfried Bony in the summer who is now plying trade in the Premier League. The side have been playing an exciting brand of football and is a hot bed of young, up-and-coming talent. The mauling of huge name sides such as PSV where Arnhem ran riot, winning 6-2 away from home is surely a sign of their intentions.
Loaning in exciting young Brazilian, Lucas Piazon has equipped Arnhem with a great player and the bond between Chelsea and Arnhem remains strong. His manager, the brilliantly named Peter Bosz, has unleashed this prestigious talent onto the Eredivsie and it now bears fruit for Vitesse, Chelsea and Piazon himself, who is gaining valuable minutes at a top flight level where he continues to acquit himself with great purpose. The statistics do not lie with Piazon top goal scorer and provider for his club with 11 goals in 16 appearances.
The team is laden with Chelsea loanees, three of which feature heavily. In van Aanholt they have a fantastic attacking full back whom repeatedly causes havoc down the left hand side, something which Vitesse had in Buttner before he sealed his move to Manchester United. In Christian Atsu they have found suitable cover for the injured and influential Theo Janssen. The benefits of having a wealthy Georgian chairman who is close friends with Chelsea owner Abramovich is clearly evident, but it can work both ways, Vitesse Arnhem lost exciting Dutch talent Van Ginkel in the summer to the London club. The oversized Chelsea squad has filtered nicely however, into the Vitesse side and raised the level of football being played, and essentially allowed themselves to be considered outside contenders.
This London connection is not the only one that ties Vitesse Arnhem with British shores. The club recently wore a kit in 2012 to commemorate the city’s release from Nazi oppression in the SecondWorld War wearing the Blue and Claret colours of the British Para’s to commemorate the battle of Arnhem anniversary. The club adopted the slogan ‘No Bridge Too Far’ for the season as a reference to the 1977 film ‘A Bridge Too Far’ which documents the events of the battle, as a tribute to their fallen heroes.
The attacking brand of football played by Vitesse is in full flow and it has to be commended bearing in mind the circumstances of losing the Young Dutch footballer of the Year, Van Ginkel and the Dutch League Player of the Year, Bony. If they can wrestle off the stranglehold of the bigger Dutch clubs, Vitesse could potentially win the Eredivsie for the first time in their history. It would be hugely significant and may allow them to attract some bigger names to the club and earn a place in at Europe’s top table, the Champions League. However, with the close links to Chelsea, Vitesse could again find themselves with a lot of their talent heading for the exit, as loans come to a conclusion. This makes it is vital to qualify in order to attain real talent on a permanent basis.
It’s an interesting time in the Dutch League with many outsiders believing it to be an inferior standard of football, but with several challengers to the throne and quality players on show maybe a renaissance is imminent. Vitesse are a club making huge steps in progress, leaving the debts behind from building their impressive stadium and with a new multi-millionaire Russian owner Alexander Tsjigirinski at the helm, FC Twente and Ajax now face a fight to hold them off.
The question now remains, is winning the league a bridge too far or can the club qualify for the Champions League and win the Eredivsie?Published 23 Dec 2013, 02:32 IST