He’s back now but Anderlecht coach John Van den Brom – extremely impressive to-date – has refused to put him in the squad and any plans to present him with his Golden Boot pre-game have been shelved. Tom De Sutter, who is either loved or hated, will replace the errant Congolese striker.
The first match at Sclessin was a chaotic affair with fireworks and flares, demonstrations against the Standard management, a red card and several stoppages to mend burning nets and remove the flares. Despite having 10 men for half an hour, Standard took the three points but that didn’t save the under-fire coach Ron Jans.
For Sunday’s return in Brussels, Van den Brom faces Mircea Rednic, Jans’ replacement who has come in and shaken things up a little at Sclessin, never an easy task. Anderlecht go into the game on the back of 11 straight wins and it’s difficult to argue with that. The last defeat was at Charleroi, after which Van den Brom recalled the hard-working Sacha Kljestan alongside Lucas Biglia and gave young Dennis Praet the freedom of the park. The defence, with Premier League wannabe Cheikhou Kouyate outstanding, has been solid with Silvio Proto a tower of strength in goal.
As for Standard, they’ve looked better under Rednic and are back in the top six. Les Rouches are playing with two young and talented strikers in Michy Batshuayi and Imoh Ezekiel (Ed: Ezekiel does not start and Reza will be alongside Batshuayi), and the side has a pretty settled look at the moment. That could change given the multitude of recent signings, several of which have had the fans scratching their heads. William Vainqueur – linked recently with Newcastle as he’s French – is running the show in midfield and Jelle Van Damme is still around despite the rumours of a move to Genk.
Overall though, and not for the first time, this will be a season of transition. It’s difficult to see beyond anything but a win for Anderlecht. That would leave them just needing just two more victories – away at Waasland-Beveren and at home to Charleroi – to equal the club record of 13 wins in 1964-65. By the time, Anderlecht get to Beveren, Mbokani will have made himself available for selection. It’s over to Van Den Brom for that decision.
Likely Anderlecht team:
Anderlecht: Proto; Gillet, Kouyate, Nuytinck, Deschacht; Biglia, Kljestan, Praet; Bruno, De Sutter, Jovanovic.
Anderlecht likely bench: Kaminski, Wasilewski, Safari, Iakovenko, De Zeeuw, Armenteros.
Standard Liege: Kawashima; Opare, Ciman, Kanu, Van Damme; Bulot, Vainqueur, Buyens, Mpoku; Reza, Batshuayi.
Standard Liege bench: Moris, Ezekiel, Diabaté, Cissé, Cristea, Ono, Arslanagic.