After the bizarre game against Chelsea earlier this week, Ajax is now working towards the Utrecht game at home. Erik ten Hag expects a tough game in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. “Utrecht is an exceptionally good team.”
“I know Utrecht’s rivalry towards Ajax”, says Ten Hag, who was Utrecht’s coach prior to coming to Ajax. “We’ll need to arm ouselves against that. We need to win.”
FC Utrecht is doing very well in the Eredivisie, and is currently in 4th place. Ten Hag has a lot of praise for Sunday’s opponent. “Utrecht has been developing very well and has an exceptionally good team, with some elements of surprise. They’re a compelling team with talented players. I think this is the strongest Utrecht we’ve seen in many years.”
And this is precisely why Ten Hag is pleased that Utrecht is Ajax’s next opponent. “This team will challenge us. We need to be at a high level to keep them at bay.”
‘As a player, this is the kind of game that you keep with you'
During Friday afternoon’s press conference, questions still arose about the bizarre game against Chelsea “As a player, this is the kind of game that you keep with you. It speeds up your development, these are the games that form you as a player.” When asked about the referee’s decisions, Ten Hag didn’t have much to add. “You need to accept it for what it is, that’s just football.”
Heading to winter break without Neres
The coach’s forcus has already shifted to Sunday’s game. Ajax will definitely not have David Neres in its ranks. The Brazilian player suffered a knee injury against Chelsea; he will need surgery and will definitely be out of the rotation until the winter break. “This isn’t good. For the team, but mostly for David himself”, according to the coach. “He was in great form. But at the end of that game, something was clearly wrong. But the fact that it’s this serious is a real disappointment.”