The top three in the Eredivisie - Feyenoord, Ajax, and PSV - look well clear of the rest of the Dutch top flight, but there is a battle on for fourth place in the table. It is a battle Vitesse has joined with some enthusiasm. Since returning from the winter break, the club is unbeaten: three wins and a draw in the league and a Dutch Cup quarterfinal win over Feyenoord.
The positive start to 2017 has put Vitesse back among the cluster of teams (Heerenveen, AZ, Utrecht, and Twente) currently best-placed to consolidate fourth place in the table, and maybe push into the top three if one of the Eredivisie's breakaway trio should falter.
Good news for Vitesse, who had gone six games without a league win in October and November and went into the winter break looking a little fragile.
Also good news for Matt Miazga. Not even the most recent Chelsea loanee to Vitesse (Mukhtar Ali just landed in the Netherlands from the London club), Miazga had worked his way into the starting lineup and worked his way out again by the time the winter break arrived. An injury to Maikel van der Werff handed the former New York Red Bulls center back a starting opportunity, and Vitesse's swoon into December took it away again.
Indeed, after dropping out of the starting lineup, Miazga seemed to drop out of his coach's favor altogether: he got just one fleeting appearance for the first team in the five league games Vitesse had remaining until the winter break.
But he bounced back into head coach Henk Fraser's good books during winter training, it would seem. Miazga is not a starter for Vitesse - far from it - but he has at least appeared in every game the first team has played since it returned to competitive play in mid-January. He is not getting a lot of time, but he is getting regular time - and that is surely an improvement on no time at all, which had seemed to be all he was allocated after he fell out of the starting lineup.
On January 15, he got into the 3-1 win over Twente in the 85th minute to help stifle a late rally from Vitesse's visitors. On January 21, against Groningen, he was a half-time replacement for Guram Kashia as coach Fraser made an example of his captain after a lackluster first half; Vitesse drew, 1-1. He was an 89th-minute sub into his team's big Cup win over Feyenoord on January 26. Three days later, he subbed in at the 78th minute against AZ, as Fraser sought to close out a 2-1 win. And on February 3, he was again called on to help shut the door, joining Vitesse's first away win of 2017 in the 87th minute and helping the team secure a 2-0 win over ADO Den Haag.
There is still a significant amount of the season to go, and neither Vitesse nor Miazga would likely call achievements so far a resounding success. But for both, it seems fair to say that things are looking up.