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Jupiler Pro League: It’s going to be a big week for…

After a European disaster Standard aim to get back on track, Club Brugge call out a referee, have tired legs had enough in Waregem, nice guy Bob Peeters is back and can Mons ever get their act together? It’s going to be a big week for…

…Standard Liegé…

Standard Liegé managed to see out a potentially tricky match at the Ghelamco Arena against AA Gent at the weekend. Gent have struggled to live up to the level expected from their fans over the past year or so but Mircea Rednic managing against his old team was always going to cause problems.

It was Michy Batshuayi whose sole goal was the difference between the two sides, and despite coming in for a bit of a hard time from myself previously, it was his tenth goal of the season as he continues to lead Standard’s title charge. It could have been more comfortable had Paul-José M’Poku converted his first half penalty but as it transpired Standard managed to get the victory anyways.

image from nieuwsblad.be

image from nieuwsblad.be

Unfortunately for the Belgian side their time in Europe will go no further. They can no longer qualify from their group after a disastrous time against Esbjerg, Elfsborg and Red Bull Salzburg; but on the upside it will allow them to focus entirely on their league situation as they aim to stifle the growing dominance in the competition from their rivals Anderlecht.

Focus is exactly what they will need this weekend as they face a big match against Club Brugge who look a lot more dangerous now having managed to win their last match: a 1-0 win against Lokeren.

Despite their strong start to the season, Standard are far from comfortable at the top of the table. Genk are breathing right down their neck and only five points separate them from fifth placed Anderlecht on 28 points, so a win in their next match is arguably imperative for the table toppers.

…Club Brugge and Alexandre Boucaut…

Standard’s opponents are also in for a big weekend. Having managed to right some wrongs against Lokeren with a 1-0 win after three consecutive defeats they go in to a league defining match with Standard at Sclessin this weekend.

Things have been difficult lately for the side but an absence of European football may give them the foothold they need in the league as league rivals Standard, Genk, Zulte Waregem and Anderlecht struggle with the rigours of a busier schedule. Should those sides struggle to recover from the extra physical exertion required then it may be prime time for Michel Preud’homme’s men to capitalise.

However Preud’homme’s club have not helped his task by their insistence on complaining about appointed referee Alexandre Boucaut. Club Brugge’s website ran a full article highlighting the times Boucaut has allegedly done them wrong in the past, in particular when he awarded a late penalty to Standard in this very fixture.

image from Sander de Hollander

image from Sander de Hollander

There’s something to be said for referee’s and their allegiances when it comes to refereeing, and it’s understandable from certain aspects but by publicly complaining then Club Brugge are walking a very fine line. On one hand it could be seen as trying to intimidate a referee to call a game fairly, and on the other hand they are possibly going too far in the opposite direction and making life even harder for themselves.

It may all just be a distraction tactic from the side to try and deflect some of the pressure from themselves onto a third party but come kick off the eyes and expectations will be back on the eleven men on the field for the Blauw-Zwart. 

…Zulte Waregem and their tired squad…

As we just previously discussed the rigours of an extensive European schedule can have their draw backs for clubs as they return to domestic duty on the weekend. For Zulte Waregem’s relatively small squad they will be on a high from achieving a monumental first European victory as they overcame Slovenian side Maribor, but alternatively they will have to deal with a congested fixture list and a big match against Waasland-Beveren.

No one is expecting Zulte to recreate last seasons form when they pushed Anderlecht all the way to a final day show down, but consolidating their place with a Play Off 1 position is imperative to the side. They have not suffered too badly upon returning from European duty in the past but an accumulation of a difficult matches over a long period of time may finally be taking their toll. Zulte have drew two of their last three matches in the league against Charleroi and Mechelen, two sides they would be hoping to finish off should they hope to keep up with the leading pack.

They encounter a possibly resurgent Waasland-Beveren team at the weekend who have a new manager at the helm, so not only will it be a big match for Francky Dury’s men but also for…

…Bob Peeters and his new Waasland-Beveren side…

Waasland-Beveren have endured a torrid time as of late, with a side chocked full of talented players they have been very poor for the most part. Currently sitting second bottom it was a shame, but not surprising, when Glen De Boeck was told his tenure had come to an end.

Speculation was rife on who would take over and try and salvage this season for the side but ultimately it was Bob Peeters who won the job and the task of bringing this talented group of players together as a cohesive unit falls on his shoulders.

A trip to Waregem is a tough match on paper but potentially a winnable first match for Peeters. As discussed Zulte are in the midst of a busy schedule and the arrival of a poorly performing team may well fly under the radar for them. With a new manager boost potentially there it could be a big win this weekend that sees Waasland-Beveren climb out of the bottom two at last.

…Mons and their stuttering team…

There’s a lot to made of this Mons side. Rapidly falling off the pace but always with a chance of survival thanks to the league’s convoluted play off systems means that Mons will always stand a chance of surviving. Enzo Scifo was sacked a while ago but fortunes have not picked up at all since then.

Cedomir Janevski is the man with the seemingly impossible mission but at the same time Mons have not been a million miles off in their matches. Despite failing to win a game this season they managed to win their third point of the campaign against OH Leuven in a 2-2 draw, and that was despite playing the second half with just ten men.

They narrowly lost to Genk the following weekend, and have not been disgraced in defeats against Anderlecht and Kortrijk so there is still hope for the side that they can turn this around, but if they do they will need to start doing it quickly.




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