PSV have absolutely dominated the Dutch Eredivisie so far. They’ve scored more goals than anyone else, conceded the fewest and have won all 12 of their games. As records tumble around them, it’s time to talk about ‘Boszball’.

We’ve already played over a third of the Eredivisie season, but PSV remain flawless. With 12 wins from 12 and a perfect haul of 36 points, they are just the fourth team ever to win each of their first 12 matches in a single Eredivisie campaign.

PSV will need to rattle off another six wins in a row if they are to beat the record, something they themselves set back in 1987-88 under coach Guus Hiddink. In that season, PSV won their first 17 Eredivisie games en route to becoming champions. They also won the European Cup that season, beating Benfica in the final to cap off one of the most successful campaigns in the club’s history.

PSV will do very well to emulate that European success this year, but the domestic record is something that’s well within their grasp.  

Dutch Eredivisie - Teams to win their first 12+ games of a season

Looking across Europe puts PSV’s flawless start into further perspective. Among the other 54 countries that have an official UEFA country coefficient, only San Marino and Gibraltar have a team in their top tier who are yet to drop a point this season. Sammarinese side Virtus have won their first nine league games of the season, while St Joseph’s from Gibraltar have started their campaign with six wins.

But the fact that we have to travel to San Marino and Gibraltar – the two lowest-ranked countries in UEFA’s coefficient rankings – to find another side with a 100% start to the season illuminates how rare and impressive PSV’s start has been.

Things do get harder for Peter Bosz’s side after the international break. Before the Eredivisie pauses for its winter break, PSV will face FC Twente (3rd), Feyenoord (2nd), sc Heerenveen (10th) and AZ (4th). According to the Opta Power Rankings, PSV have the second-hardest upcoming run of five games of any team in the division.

Next five games - fixture difficulty dutch eredivisie

That’s a direct contrast to their run of fixtures up to this point. If we were to take the average position of each opponent based on their spot in the league table at the start of each match, only FC Twente (12.0) and N.E.C. (11.7) have faced ‘easier’ opponents than PSV (11.5) so far. Whether they’ll be able to maintain this perfect start when the fixture list turns remains to be seen.

But what makes PSV so much more dominant than last year? After all, 2022-23 was a pretty successful season as they ran Feyenoord close for the title before finishing second to qualify for the Champions League play-offs, while they scooped up domestic honours in the KNVB Cup and Johan Cruyff Shield.

It’s hard to look beyond the departure of Ruud van Nistelrooy as coach and the subsequent hiring of Bosz. Last season, Eindhoven played a direct, vertical game, that focused on breaking extremely quickly. PSV had 96 direct attacks in the Eredivisie – defined as the number of open-play sequences that start inside a team’s own half and have at least 50% of movement towards the opposition’s goal while ending in a shot or a touch in the opposition box – 30 more than any other side in the league. Granted, it did bring results and PSV did have the personnel to be deadly on the break, but the fans wanted to be entertained with more progressive, attacking football.

Van Nistelrooy resigned one game before the end of the season and in came Bosz over the summer. While PSV now look a little more patient and controlled in possession – they’re averaging more passes per sequence and holding the ball for longer periods of time – it’s off the ball where the former Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen head coach has transformed them.

Under clear instructions from Bosz, PSV are now a pressing machine. Their PPDA rate of 9.2 is the lowest of any team in the league this season and a long way down from their PPDA of 11.7 in 2022-23.

Logically, PSV lead the league for possession won in the final third (86) and high turnovers won (150), and they also top the charts for shots from high turnovers with 18. On a per-game basis, PSV are winning possession in the final third 7.2 times per game, a big increase from 5.8 last campaign. Since Opta have fully analysed the Eredivisie (2010-11), only Erik ten Hag’s Ajax in 2020-21 (7.6) and Arne Slot’s Feyenoord in 2021-22 (7.3) and 2022-23 (7.8) have ever averaged higher tallies. This is Boszball in full swing.

PSV Stats comparison -Van Ruud van Nistelrooy vs Peter Bosz

This hyper-aggressive playing style is working wonders at the top end of the pitch, where PSV’s attacking numbers are outstanding. Their expected goals (xG) difference per game has jumped from +1.5 under Van Nistelrooy last season (2.5 xG for, 1.0 xG against) to a +2.4 xG difference in 2023-24 (3.3 xG and 0.9 xG against).

PSV rolling xG Eredivise 2023-24

In their 12 Eredivisie matches so far, PSV have already scored 45 goals at an average of 3.75 per game. Only the rampant Bayern Munich can better that average across the top 10 European leagues (3.82).

PSV’s prolific scoring is not surprising given they average 25.2 shots per game, almost five more than the next-best team in that category across the top 10 leagues (Rangers with 20.8). They also lead Europe’s top 10 leagues for shots on target, touches in the opposition box and xG per game.

As well as scoring for fun, PSV have also been extremely solid defensively. Bosz’s side have conceded just five goals this season (two of them penalties), with only French side Nice conceding fewer in Europe (four). PSV are conceding a miserly 2.1 shots on target per game, which is the best rate amongst Europe’s top 10 leagues.

If PSV maintain their attacking numbers, they will finish the Eredivisie season with around 127-128 goals and will surpass the current Eredivisie record of 122 set by Ajax in 1966-67. PSV have only scored 100+ goals in a season once this century, netting 103 in 2012-13, a campaign in which they only finished second despite scoring 20 more goals than any other team.

PSV team ranks compared acoss Europe's top 10 leagues

PSV are led in attack by good old Luuk de Jong, their 33-year-old captain who has revitalised his career by returning to Eindhoven. After a three-season stint in Spain with Sevilla and Barcelona, his first campaign back at PSV didn’t quite go to plan, with the Dutch striker netting just three times in his first 11 league games before eventually ending up with 14 goals in the Eredivisie. With 10 goals in 12 league matches this season, that’s a total he is already close to equalling. Only twice in his previous 10 Eredivisie seasons has De Jong reached 10 goals in as few games (11 matches in 2015-16 and 12 in 2018-19).

And it’s not just in the Eredivisie where De Jong is shining – he has taken his form with him into Europe as well. In all competitions, he has already scored 17 goals in 21 matches this season, as well as providing another eight assists. In total, he’s been involved in 25 of PSV’s 64 goals (39%) – at least 11 goal involvements more than any of his teammates.

In typical De Jong fashion, he’s scored nine of these 17 goals with his head, at least four more than any other player from a team in Europe’s top six leagues (Harry Kane is second with five).

Luuk de Jong goals in all competitions PSV 2023-24

De Jong continues to prove his doubters wrong. In September, he became the highest scorer in the Eredivisie this century (159). In October he became the player with the most European goals for any Dutch side (31). And, at the start of this month, he joined Van Nistelrooy as PSV’s top scorer in the Champions League (eight).

But it’s not just in front of goal where De Jong has been prolific. Only two players have created more chances from open play this season for PSV in all competitions than his 37. De Jong is averaging 2.0 open-play chances created per 90, a figure he’s only ever averaged once before in a season (2017-18). The Swiss-born striker really is ageing like a fine wine.

But PSV and De Jong’s attacking output relies on a reliable and efficient supporting cast. PSV have a lot of players who can create attacking opportunities, but two stand out in particular.

Joey Veerman is one of those. The Dutch midfielder has created 59 chances in the Eredivisie so far this season, 24 more than any other player in the Netherlands and 18 more than anyone has created across Europe’s top five leagues (Isco and Iago Aspas have created 41 chances each in La Liga). Granted, Veerman is partly helped by taking set pieces, but even in open play, the 25-year-old midfielder has recorded the most attacking sequence involvements in the Eredivisie, both in total (120) and on a per-90 basis (10.8 – min. 320+ mins)

Dutch Eredivisie - attacking sequence involvements

In Johan Bakayoko, PSV have a direct, dribbling threat. The Belgian right winger loves to take on his opposition number with the ball at his feet. Of all Eredivisie players, only Bilal Ould-Chikh of FC Volendam (37) has completed more dribbles than Bakayoko (33).

After covering ground with the ball, Bakayoko has end product as well. No player has been involved in as many total chance-creating carries as the 20-year-old winger (17 where he shot himself and 10 where he created a chance).

Johan Bakayoko chance-creating carries

Bakayoko is also a young star to watch for his national team. With Jérémy Doku on the left wing and Bakayoko on the right, Belgium could become one of the most entertaining teams in Europe in the future. Where have we heard that before?

Bosz’s side are enjoying a historical start. If they can navigate a relatively tricky upcoming run of fixtures, they have every chance of setting Eredivisie records for the longest winning run to start a season, as well as shattering the goals scored record.

We’ve already seen on the European stage that Bosz will compromise his style for no one. It didn’t quite work against Arsenal on Matchday 1 of the Champions League, but it’s been the perfect formula for domestic dominance thus far.

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