A top of the table clash with surprise guests

By | February 27, 2013

Zulte Waregem's Thorgan Hazard waiting to enter the big stage

Zulte Waregem’s Thorgan Hazard waiting to enter the big stage

Tonight sees Zulte Waregem play Anderlecht at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s a meeting of the league’s top two teams. Anderlecht, the leaders, started the season as favourites and are probably doing even better than expected. Zulte Waregem, however, were seen by many – see here for more on the club’s rise – as a team that would be happy just to avoid a relegation scrap.

Two late summer signings, both teenagers, Junior Malanda from Lille and Thorgan Hazard from Lens (via Chelsea), have made a difference. They’ve given excellent support to Franck Berrier in midfield and the results are plain to see. The success though has been built on a strong defence with only eight goals conceded in 12 games away from home.

Now, both clubs go into the match unbeaten for 15 games. These impressive records are a strong indication of the fine job that’s being done by the respective coaches. Anderlecht’s John Van den Brom has not put a foot wrong since joining the club in the summer. His club are favourites for both the League and the Cup and they had a reasonable time, playing attractive football, in Europe.  In the opposite camp, Zulte Waregem’s Francky Dury has worked wonders on a small budget. If they do qualify for a campaign in Europe next season, it really will be a miracle.

Currently Anderlecht are nine points ahead of Zulte Waregem having played one game more. If, and it’s a big if, Zulte Waregem beat Anderlecht tonight and then defeat Charleroi in the game that was cancelled last weekend, they will be just three points behind the leaders. And that will be 1 ½ points when the playoffs start! (Ed: Send questions to the usual address).

Sacha Kljestan - under pressure from new signings

Sacha Kljestan – under pressure from new signings

As for the teams tonight, Anderlecht will be without the suspended Bram Nuytinck and also Demy De Zeeuw and Samuel Armenteros who played a major part in last weekend’s draw at Club Brugge. These two new signings were not signed in time to qualify for the date of the original fixture. Midfield enforcer Sacha Kljestan is under pressure from De Zeeuw and could miss out when the playoffs come around. In defence, Olivier Deschacht is likely to move into the centre with Safari at left back.

Zulte Waregem will be without Junior Malanda and Mbaye Leye, both suspended, and they will be replaced by Olafur Skulason and Jens Naessens. Anderlecht loanee Bryan Verboom is out injured and will be replaced by another Anderlecht loanee, Bruno Gateau. It’ll be a tight game but I see Anderlecht winning this one, perhaps by 2-1.


Anderlecht:  Proto, Gillet, Kouyaté, Deschacht, Safari, Bruno, Kljestan, Biglia, Praet, Jovanovic, Mbokani.

Zulte Waregem: Bossut, De fauw, D’Haene, Colpaert, Godeau, Skulason, Delaplace, Berrier, Hazard, Trajkovski, Naessens.

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