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Five things from JPL match day 15

We are officially half way through the season with every team having played each other once. We just have to go through it all again before we can begin the convoluted play off systems come the seasons end. It’s been a great season for some, and less so for others. Four points separate first from fifth while at the other end six points separate fifteenth from sixteenth. Bjorn De Cock, Chris Mayer and Luke Harvey look at some of the talking points from the latest round of matches.

Anderlecht climbing to the top (Bjorn De Cock)

Anderlecht had a very difficult start of the season. Coach John van den Brom is, after fifteen matches in the competition, still looking for his best formation. Matias Suarez’s injury and Lucas Biglia leaving didn’t help him either. Despite some injuries and suspensions, Anderlecht won their first big clash at the weekend after already losing against Lokeren, Zulte Waregem and Club Brugge this season.

image from nieuwsblad.be

Youri Tielemans started as a left back when Deschacht injured himself during his warming-up. Andy Najar replaced Anthony Vanden Borre, who was suspended after his red card against OH Leuven, as a right back. Defender Kara Mbodj helped Anderlecht a lot with his horrendous tackle early in the game; Frank Acheampong once again lucky not to be injured after this assault.

Anderlecht had a lot of possession after that red card from Genk but couldn’t create many chances. Chancel Mbemba, who’s the best man so far at Anderlecht this season, scored his third goal this season. Anderlecht won 0-1 against Racing Genk and closed the gap with league leaders Standard Liège to 3 points.

The average age of Anderlecht in the second half of the game was 21.45 years showing the youth, and inexperience, of their squad. Anderlecht played with two defenders, seven midfielders and one attacker against Racing Genk and could have been tested more defensively if Kara didn’t took a stupid red card.

Club Brugge are clinging on to the leading pack (Luke Harvey) 

Now that Michel Preud’homme’s voodoo appears to have worn off Club Brugge are being exposed as a team that are clinging on to the leading pack without really giving us the performances to back it up. There seemed to be little strife when Preud’homme took over from Javier Garrido as Club Brugge followed a 4-1 win over Lierse with a 4-0 win over Anderlecht and Preud’homme went on to win his first four matches with Club Brugge including one in the cup.

However a run of three defeats on the bounce, including a defeat in the derby to Cercle means they have only taken four points from their last five games and are in danger of being cut off from the real title fight. A win against Lokeren and a draw against Standard in their last two matches might have restored some fight to the side so next weeks reverse fixture away to Lokeren will have a lot of meaning.

Lokeren looked good in their 4-0 demolition of Mechelen so Club Brugge will not be certainties to do the double over their opponents. Lestienne’s output may have started to recede a little bit recently and the club are certainly still not confident without the regular goals of Carlos Bacca but they remain a strong Play Off 1 contender and assuming the wheels haven’t fell off just yet are capable of beating the best in the league should push come to shove.

Mechelen need to ditch van Veldhoven before greater harm (Chris Mayer)

For Lokeren, Friday night’s 4-0 win over KV Mechelen was a delight. Peter Maes has instilled a great team ethic in his side, with Hans Vanaken, Nils De Pauw, Junior Dutra and the returning Ayanda Patosi all linking up expertly in midfield and attack for Les Tricolores. As good as Lokeren were, Mechelen were truly terrible and the mood for the evening was set by the lackadaisical defending for Jeremy Taravel’s second minute opener. Harm van Veldhoven’s team struggled to string anything together on the night and were played off the park by their opponents. It should have been a wake-up call to the manager that his side are certainly underperforming and are the very definition of mediocre.

image from gva.be

image from gva.be

KVM have won just four games this season – three of which have been against sides in the bottom four, the other being Kortrijk – a team who they should be at least level with given stature. The only Mechelen players really to come out of this season with any credit so far are centre-back Sheldon Bateau, who has got them out of trouble numerous times, Seth De Witte and talisman David DeStorme. The rest look jaded, particularly Benjamin Mokulu, who really should have been playing out of his skin versus his former team.

By virtue of there being some terrible teams below them, Mechelen seem destined for a Playoffs 2 spot in March and the season will be discarded without much memory. Mechelen fans deserve better and van Veldhoven needs performances and results quickly. With the next four reading Zulte Waregem (A), Gent (H), Genk (H) and Club Brugge (A), it seems unlikely.

Marc Coucke and KV Oostende are fighting back (Bjorn De Cock)

In the beginning of the season everybody, myself included, had KV Oostende already on their Play Off 3 list. The “Kustboys” started with a bad note and it was obvious that the players needed to adapt to the speed of game in the Jupiler Pro League.

Coach Fred Vanderbiest approaches with quite an aggressive style and even put his players to the sword after a bad game. The Belgian press and Pro League analysts didn’t expect that he would stay long but things look different after match day 15 now KV Oostende have 12 points. This weekend KV Oostende won against another Play Off 3 contender, Mons with a 2-0 win. Waasland-Beveren and Mons are respectively number 15 and 16. Especially Mons need a winning streak after only gathering three points out of 15 matches.

Marc Coucke, the new President of KV Oostende, never panicked after their terrible start. His dream is to make a stable club from KV Oostende and it will be a great achievement if he manages to do that.

Destined for Play Off 3, Mons are lucky to get another chance (Luke Harvey)

This season has been an unmitigated disaster for Mons. Things never looked right from before the season despite a relatively steady end to the last one. It quickly became apparent that the team were struggling as Enzo Scifo, despite some relatively decent performances form his team, could not find the recipe for victory.

Things continued to go from bad to worse and at some stage there was a tipping point when a team putting in decent performances and narrowly losing became just an all round bad team. Last week was probably the second tipping point of the season as a 2-0 loss to KV Oostende all but confined them to the Play Off 3 come the end of the season.

Scifo is long gone and Macedonian Cedomir Janevski seems amiable enough but just as incapable as his predecessor when it comes to getting results out of his team. Half way through the regular season and Mons have just three points, they’ve played everyone one already and have very little to show for it. With Standard, Lokeren and Zulte Waregem their next three fixtures it seems very unlikely that Mons will be picking up any more points any time soon.

Yet hope still remains thanks to the confusing Belgian league system. No matter how far adrift they are come the end of the season they will still play the second bottom team in a best of 5 matches and the 15th placed team will only get a 3 point head start on their opponents regardless of how far ahead they finish. Yet even if Mons get through that, they will still have to face off against three of the best second division teams to remain in the league and that may just be a step too far for them.




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