Forever Ajacied: Eriksen and Vertonghen feature in London derby thriller

In Forever Ajacied, we take a weekly look at the performances of former Ajax players around the globe.

ENGLAND

Jose Mourinho’s struggling Manchester United side saw out a drab 1-1 draw against fellow title contenders Arsenal with the towering Swede Zlatan Ibrahimović missing the game through suspension after accumulating five yellow cards since that start of the season.

In the 64th minute of the game with United leading 1-0 Daley Blind was brought on for Matteo Darmian in order to steady the ship. Despite his tidy play he could not prevent handsome forward Olivier Giroud from finding the equaliser with a soaring back post header in the 89th minute. The game finished 1-1 with United perhaps missing Ibrahimović’s excellent forward play.

Further south, the Tottenham Hotspur duo of Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen completed 90 minutes in a thriller of a London derby with Toby Alderweireld missing the game through injury. Despite going both 1-0 and 2-1 down, Spurs showed great character and resilience to bounce back and claim the win thanks to the individual brilliance of Harry Kane and dogged work of Vertonghen in the heart of defence. Eriksen, not for the first time this season, failed to impress with an uncharacteristic 71% passes completed and only one chance created. His work rate and ground covered, however, were never in question, just as people have come to expect.

Furthermore, it is widely believed Vertonghen will be offered a new, long term contract in the coming days.

An in-form Chelsea side visited Viktor Fischer’s new found home of Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium in Sunday’s only Premier League game. Fischer entered the game in the 73rd minute for the booked Adam Clayton but didn’t have much time to make any kind of impact against the meanest defence in the country. The game finished 0-1 to Chelsea with The Blues keeping a sixth consecutive clean sheet and snatching the victory thanks to a scrappy Diego Costa goal.

Bojan Krkic won a penalty for Stoke in their 0-1 defeat at home to Bournemouth but couldn’t convert as he cracked the spot kick off the bar. He was later substituted for Jon Walters in the 73rd minute.

Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg was perhaps lucky to start Everton’s 1-1 draw against Swansea after a woeful display last time out in a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. The Dutch keeper played the full 90 minutes making a great save from a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick however there was nothing he could do to prevent Sigurdsson scoring his penalty kick just minutes later. Mike van der Hoorn was an unused substitute for Swansea.

In the Championship Vurnon Anita completed 90 minutes in a 0-2 away win for Newcastle United against fellow promotion hopefuls Leeds United. Urby Emanuelson didn’t even make the bench for Sheffield Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Fulham.

SPAIN

Neither of the Barcelona duo, Luis Suarez or Jasper Cillessen, featured in their surprising 0-0 draw at home to Malaga. Suarez was suspended for the game after picking up a seemingly deliberate booking in their last game against Sevilla in order to avoid picking up a suspension before El Classico. Personal idol of Andre Onana, Marc-André ter Stegen, was the preferred choice between the sticks ahead of Cillessen.

Well-known winger Ryan Babel got himself on the score sheet within the first minute as his side Deportivo de La Coruña fell to a crushing late defeat at home to Sevilla. Babel tucked away a well-placed header from the centre of the box after a pin point cross from fullback Juanfran down the right hand side. However, it was all to no avail after Vitolo and Gabriel Mercado grabbed two late goals to give Sevilla the 2-3 victory away from home.

TURKEY

Galatasaray were dealt a painful 2-0 defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals Fenerbahce in the Istanbul derby, one of the most fierce and competitive derbies in European football. Wesley Sneijder and Nigel de Jong both started the game with the former being substituted in the 66th minute for Lukas Podolski and the latter picking up his trademark yellow card.

Yet, it was (sickeningly) the ex-Feyenoord man Robin van Persie who stole the show. Scoring twice, once on the cusp of halftime and once from the penalty spot in the 78th minute taking his tally to 16 for the season making him the league’s top scorer.

Neither Icelandic hero Kolbeinn Sigthorsson or Gregory van der Wiel even made their respective benches.

GERMANY

Once again, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar failed to make the bench as Schalke earned themselves a 0-1 victory away to a struggling Wolfsburg side courtesy of a Leon Goretzka goal.

Finnish centre half Niklas Moisander saw his Werder Bremen side slip to their eighth defeat of the season at home to Eintracht Frankfurt. Despite the 1-2 loss, Moisander registered a brilliant assist after splitting the Frankfurt defence wide open with a beautifully weighted long ball for Florian Grillitsch to sweep home.

ITALY

Ricardo Kishna was, not for the first time this season, an unused substitute as Lazio cruised to 3-1 victory over Genoa.

Likewise, Thomas Vermaelen did not feature for Roma due to a groin injury. A 90th minute Franck Kessié penalty gave Atalanta a surprise 2-1 home victory over La Maggica. Rumour has it Vermaelen is set to return from injury in time for next week’s Serie A fixture against Pescara.

Polish hitman Arek Milik continues his road to recovery with doctors at Napoli setting an estimated return date of the 20th of January.

REST OF WORLD

Rafael van der Vaart starred in FC Midtjylland’s 1-0 defeat against SønderjyskE in the Danish Superligaen. Midtjylland’s chances weren’t helped after Andre Romer received a straight red card leaving 10 men Midtjylland in the lurch.

Veteran left back Maxwell had a quiet but effective game as PSG saw off FC Nantes in a 2-0 home win thanks to goals from Angel di Maria and Jesé Rodriguez. The solid defender made no errors as he helped his team to a well-deserved clean sheet and victory.

Former Ajax captain Siem de Jong was an unused substitute in PSV’s dire nil-nil draw away at the Koning Willem II Stadion. Two dropped points for PSV leaves them six points adrift of the top spot and four away from second place Ajax. It looks like de Jong still fancies doing Ajax a couple favours no matter where he’s playing.

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