Posted in Matches in Brief

Les Zèbres Have Done it Again!

Four matches took place last night, and I was going to write this out last night, but I was absolutely knackered. This has been my only release from work recently, and thankfully, the Pro League hasn’t disappointed. With only one team on zero points, and it’s surprised me who that is, 2 teams grabbing their first wins, players scoring on their full debut and one team, who’ll I’ll start with, still has maximum points!

Charleroi have, again, managed to get 3 points in their amazing start to the season. I did think with a start against Kortrijk and Mouscron, those results would be comprehensive, but with the starts those 2 have had, they’ve been big 3 points in each. Then having Anderlecht and now Genk. Charleroi have been great in that they’ve kept 3 clean sheets out of those 4 matches and have shown battling qualities, which have brought luck too.

And that luck was shown yesterday. After a goalless first half, a throw in on the far side seemed to just carry…and carry, scuttling across the box for somebody to deal with until it deflected towards the goal. Firstly, I saw a notification it was Kaveh Rezaei with his first goal. I also saw it was an unfortunate own goal by Sander Berge. Regardless, Felice Mazzu was left smiling at the final whistle with another win!

Next were two teams at the other end of the scale. Eupen and Oostende were still pointless, and before yesterday, one was goalless too. For those who read these posts often, I do get my predictions wrong. I get the occasional one right, like Mbaye Leye being the perfect fit for Eupen, but I also said yesterday wouldn’t be his day. Unsurprisingly I was wrong there! This match was, for me, remembered for 3 fantastic assists, although the finishes were very decent too. Nine minutes in and Mbaye Leye powerfully headed home a great cross from Luis Garcia. Fantastic start for the Pandas.

Around thirty minutes later though, Michiel Jonckheere smartly half volleyed an equaliser after a knock down from 12 yards out, setting up a tense second half for both teams, eager for their first win. And somebody did grab that win. A superb through ball by Jean Amani cut through De Kustboys defence like a hot knife through butter and Eric Ocansey smartly finished to seal Eupen’s first win of the season. A tough start for Eupen where they’ve finally chipped away and got their first win. Oostende on the other hand could feel worried. No wins. One goal. Not the difficult start people would’ve thought before the season. Has European elimination knocked their confidence? Granted they are missing big players, but is Eupen away that much of a test?

Then to the Freethiel where the goal pigs sat and enjoyed, especially if you’re a Lokeren fan. A 3-0 half time lead would’ve had Peter Maes crowing at half time. Beveren have been great, up to this point, and with a toothless Lokeren coming to town, they’d have fancied their chances before kick off. Goals from Stefano Matzo, Marko Miric and Mehdi Terki, with a couple of assists thrown in by Samy Kehli for good measure, the match looked over.

Some inspirational words from Phillipe Clement must’ve been spoken,as Beveren didn’t give up. Ibrahima Seck pulled one back just before the hour. Then, Rudy Camacho struck with 20 minutes left to set up a fantastic finish. Ryota Morioka seemed to pick up 2 assists of his own, showing what a quality signing he has been so far too. But the come back wasn’t enough as Lokeren held out for a first win of the season. Beveren, who have been great so far this season will hope to bounce back this week, and maybe invest in a new striker this week, whereas Lokeren will aim to continue down the same road they were on this week to get to this win.

Lastly, to the AFAS Stadion where I was hoping for a good game first, and hopefully a performance from my Player Profile Stefan Drazic (who was subbed around the hour mark) but it took until the 67th minute when a Frederic Duplus deflected effort looped over the despairing Colin Coosemans into the top corner. Antwerp were looking good heading into the final minutes, but, setback happened when youngster Boureima Bande hit the killer blow, equalising, and swinging the pendulum back in Mechelen’s favour with three minutes left. Although to my surprise, the Great Old weren’t giving up, and Faris Haroun hot the winner! Ninety minutes on the clock when the 32 year old hit a big winner! Again, you can’t be anything but impressed with Antwerp’s resolve after last week’s poor performance against Genk, whereas Mechelen lose their first win and lose their first match in the process too.

Another great weekend in Belgium so far, including the fantastic 4-0 Friday night win by Zulte Waregem away to Standard Liege.

(All pictures courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Matches in Brief

Every Game Means Something this Weekend

To anyone who reads this, and let’s be honest, I’d be lucky if 1 person does. Let’s have it right, I enjoy writing, but who enjoys reading?!? Mini rant over, every match does seem to have something riding on it. Apologies to Standard Liege and Zulte Waregem fans for not including their match in a pre summary but I was in London today. A post match summary, in short, fantastic performance from Essevee with a 4-0 away win and Onur Kaya looks to add goals to his assists this season, hopefully for Francky Dury.

Now, in order. Let’s begin with Genk-Charleroi. One team gained a striker this week, whereas the other lost one. Charleroi have lost David Pollet to Turkey, like most of the Pro League whenever I see where a player has gone, which is unbelievable. But Charleroi have been great. A magnificent home win last week keeping their 100% record, whereas the hosts finally got off the mark with a swashbuckling win away at Antwerp. Big match to kick off the weekend with goals definitely on the agenda at the Luminus Arena!

Following that is a Zinho Gano-less Beveren, hoping that that won’t affect them, against pointless and goalless Lokeren, where Peter Maes will hope to have put his stamp on the side this week. Beveren have been great. Really, I mean I didn’t expect such a fine start. Lokeren on the other hand have disappointed me. Loads of fresh faces and good players too, but the gelling of this side is still yet to happen. Personally, I think this could be something like a 2-2 draw, but I’m always wrong!

At the same time, the other two pointless clubs contest for their first points of the season. Eupen welcome Oostende where, in short, I can only see an away win. Both with new strikers, the likelihood of Zinho making the difference is greater than Mbaye Leye, not saying that the Senegalese won’t !Ake his mark on the side though since his arrival.

Lastly on Saturday, Mechelen, with my PP Stefan Drazic, host Antwerp, looking for a response, and most likely, a tighter defence. For my Player Profile, I’m hoping for goals, especially if Tim Matthys performs like he did last weekend, but Antwerp in my opinion would love a 0-0 if I’m honest, and try and put some confidence back into that defence?

Sunday will come quicker than we’ll know it, and 3 HUGE matches end the week for us. Anderlecht definitely can’t wait so that they may just get their season on track. Sint Truiden with Jonas De Roeck will have their toughest test (mainly because they’re at the champions) but with a good 1-0 win at home against Standard last week, it’s good in the surface, but with 9 men and a calamitous bit of defending which Yohan Boli capitalised from, I have a feeling Les Mauves will win.

Now. Kortrijk, who I’ve shown some love to this week, play Club Brugge who are the Kortrijk of last season, but between domestic and European football. Christophe Lepoint has been on point this season, however, Dennis Bonaventure has been nothing short of amazing. An inspired signing who may lift Blauw-Zwart to the title with his incredible form. However, I actually believe this could be a tough one to call…

Finally, Mouscron, who have also been fantastic, face a Gent side still looking for their first win. Kalifa Coulibaly left for Nantes which takes some goals out of the side, and other players really need to step up for De Buffalos. I do feel Gent will snatch a win here though. Mouscron could surprise us a few times this season, but without being too predictable, I just feel Gent will be too strong on the night.

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Stefan Drazic

Last weeks PP was nothing more than a disappointment regarding Nicolas Verdier. That is unfair as Eupen haven’t adapted to the loss of Henry Onyekuru at all, but I digress. The young Serbian Stefan Drazic has joined the Pro League and started fantastically well. Scoring after 7 minutes on his debut against a Standard Liege team, who I thought, would be challenging this season, and still might.

Mechelen have had a tough start to the season. Not because they haven’t won, but because of the opposition. Playing against Standard, a Ryota Morioka inspired Beveren and a spirited Gent side who claimed their first point of the season, De Kakkers have remained unbeaten, which isn’t actually too bad in my opinion. The Serb has taken to life at the AFAS Stadion quite well, claiming that goal in the first match, and an assist too.

Last term in the Serbian SuperLiga, he joined FK Vozdovac, based in his home city of Serbia, and performed reason well at his new club. There for one season before moving, he notched up 9 goals in all competitions and 1 assist. Vozdovac finished 7 in the table (basically mid table), which was the same place as the season before, but there were 4 more league matches played last season due to a new league setup, which Belgians will all know about themselves!

Up next for Mechelen is a tough match against promoted Antwerp. Both teams have been extremely respectful to eachother on Twitter, but it’ll be a battle on the pitch. Antwerp have had a mixed start, winning, losing and drawing their matches so far, but in honesty, I believe they’ve had an even tougher start, playing 2 of last season’s top three already, and taking 4 points off of them! Last week was a reality check, losing 5-3 at home to Genk, when at one point they were 5-1 down. This is why this match is so fascinating. One team looking for their first victory, whereas the other is looking for a response from a setback.

More than likely, it may end in a draw, mainly because Antwerp will hope to keep it tight in my opinion, but I may be wrong? Mechelen will need to find their form of last season, which was impressive. They’ll also need to have the courage of their convictions and play with a little less fear and have the confidence to take the game to Antwerp tomorrow night! And with Stefan Drazic, they may well have found a gem. If he carries on with his decent form of a goal and an assist, he could prove a steal ahead of Mechelen’s rivals and maybe be the difference, not just this weekend, but in the future too…

(All pictures courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Uncategorized

Forwards are the Order of the Season

I switched up day to season of course. And they are. They always have been and always will be. Strikers will always and for ever be the need for every club anywhere and everywhere, and of course, that applies to Belgium. Whether it’s fresh faces or familiar faces, teams will acquire players, especially in the forward positions, and particular strikers will always be needed. Once you feel the small, quick striker is out of favour, they come back, to replace the tall, strong striker who heads everything. Then there’s the wide attacker who drifts in. The ‘false No.9’ which apparently Spain invented in Euro 2012 or whatever. There’s a partnership, no wait, one on their own, or gung ho with 3 up top with all different qualities.

Now onto my point. Yesterday saw a key striker who had a trial match on Saturday and passed the test. The club he has now joined stupidly signed him days after he clinically put them to the sword twice. Oostende have signed Beveren talisman Zinho Gano. I am truly gutted for Waasland Beveren who will have to rely on Olivier Myny and goals around the team, which isn’t a problem, but without Gano they’d be 4 goals worse off right now.

Eupen have signed Mbaye Leye after his release from Zulte Waregem. I and a good Belgian football fan predicted he’d go somewhere like Eupen. We both concurred that he’d be good for a young team, and the Senegalese Aspire Academy influence would probably come into play too. A three year deal which will most likely see the rest of his career out with the Pandas makes me think what else could progress from this deal long term after Leye’s playing days?

Then unfortunately you see the Golden Shoe winner of 2016 leave the league in Jose Izquierdo. I really wonder how Club Brugge fans feel losing such a quality player AND their title winning manager in the same season? I’ve actually just thought of that. Losing 2 key men from that dressing room and both leaders in their own way, on and off the pitch. The Colombian joining Brighton gives me mixed feelings. Firstly, in a positive light, he is deemed good enough for the Premier League, meaning players in Belgium, and there are, are considered Premier League quality. But in a negative light, he is deemed only good enough for Brighton (no offense) where technically, they were the 22nd best team in England last season, and second best in England’s 2nd tier. Same of course applies to Matt Ryan, but this is a striker post, so less said the better.

And of course, other signings have been made as these players must’ve been deemed surplus to requirements, or forced their way out, and players have been already signed into their place. Nicolas Verdier has common up top for Eupen too, with Henry Onyekuru going on loan to Anderlecht via Everton. The brilliant Dennis Bonaventure has come in along with Jeremy Perbet at Club Brugge and Zulte Waregem have signed Ivan Saponjic on loan from Benfica. Obviously other teams have invested in attack, but with this merry go round of strikers within the league or Europe, one move then sparks another.

Going back to the beginning of all of this, the Zinho Gano move to Oostende, probably filling the gap left behind by Nany Dimata, will mean there’s a place to fill at Beveren, meaning that’ll create funds or space at that club, and the domino effect will carry on until September the first. We all love a deal, especially when it’s a name, and I’d be excited if I were a Kustboy right now meaning they may just get their first points this weekend, although at Eupen, the likelihood is pretty big, even with Mbaye Leye.

To cap off, I’m glad that there are very good strikers in Belgium, meaning anyone can beat anyone, which has already been proved, and that if there is a chance, the likelihood of it being taken is greater than it missing, and goals is what fans want!

(All pictures courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Manager Profile

Manager Profile: Yannis Anastasiou

I have procrastinated for long enough. Amongst all the ins and outs in the Pro League this pre season,and already this season too within the dugout, I’ve missed the hiring of Yannis Anastasiou at Kortrijk. Laziness, lack of coverage and, well, a number of things really. A lot more sacking were broadcast a hell of a lot louder than the news of former Roda JC manager in at Guldensporenstadion. With the start Kortrijk have had as well, the Greek manager deserves a bit of spotlight, even if it is after 3 matches.

Going back through the archives, the one time Anderlecht striker was appointed on the 20th of May. I was in Belgium and Germany the day before so as my excuse, I’ll take some sort of readjusting to the time difference and my familiar surroundings as my way of not knowing anything… or that I’m useless, you’ll decide (most likely the latter). A summer of multiple signings, which I’m sure isn’t over in regards to more acquisitions and outgoings, the team have been impressive this far, with 2 wins out of 3 and a loss away to unbeaten Charleroi by a David Pollet penalty is the only blotch.

Being shrewd in this window, the Greek manager has brought in players from the Pro League, nations around Russia, namely Ukraine, who have had successful players within Belgium, and areas he will know about around Greece such as Gary Kagelmacher from Maccabi Haifa and Abdul Jeleel Ajagun from Panathanaikos. One major success so far is Christophe Lepoint who has directly had a hand in Kortrijk’s last 3 goals!

On the other hand De Kerels have lost Idriss Saadi, Joãozinho, Andriy Totovitskiy and Nebosja Pavlovic. Key players who would all aid the team, some more than others, in keeping Kotrijk competitive last season. For me, they were very inconsistent and everyone will know that of course. They had 2 halves to the season, with the first half really being their saviour. Twenty four points gained before Christmas helped with survival really, seeing as in the regular season, they only gained 7 points in the second half (2017), one point more than they’ve already gained so far this season.

Without being too negative, Yannis Anastasiou will hopefully get a full season, and the way Kortrijk are going, the only way he won’t be at the club is through being poached? With a wealth of experience, playing and coaching, he could go anywhere IF he continues, although credit has to go to the playing staff too, but with his playing CV including Anderlecht and Ajax. And with a managerial CV including Panathanaikos, he can deal with pressure well and perform. With Roda JC seemingly being a one off right now, for Kortrijk, he’ll aim to get them firing in a continuous manner.

(All pictures courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Uncategorized

The Pro League on Twitter

I put Twitter in the title rather than social media because even though I have Facebook, I’ve never fully been a fan of I’m honest. I don’t have Instagram because I’m not a photographer, although if I had one for the team I support, I’d have a fair few pictures of away matches. But anyway, I use Twitter most because I find it the best way to communicate with clubs and players and fans whether it be through a tweet or direct message.

But I’ve had this sort of post for a while because I’m not sure certain clubs take full advantage of their Twitter account. Like I said, I’ve had this idea of this post for a while, but not to pick on any club, it’s up to them how they run their Twitter, I remember Waasland Beveren didn’t tweet for 6 days. You might as well call it a week.

Twitter can be a powerful tool. A tool where you can expand your popularity and fanbase, which could bring in fans, sponsors, anything really?!? I’m just shocked that you have a top flight European league where Anderlecht are occasionally non stop tweeting, which I find positive and informative. They tweet about their youth, ladies team, online shop and they do it in a trilingual way. The only club to do that.

That’s not me having a dig at Club Brugge or Gent or Standard Liege…honestly its not. In fact, because these clubs primarily tweet in Dutch, it’s made me want to learn Dutch (to a point) to go with my adequate French and, without blowing my own trumpet, my very good Spanish (although Spanish isn’t useful in Belgium).

For me it’s even weird that clubs don’t give up to date match reports. Sometimes just a starting line up and an end result. I’m not after a gimmick. I’m not after stupid videos. But even just a tweet regarding maybe famous results from the past? Famous moments against upcoming opposition? The odd player interview or…I don’t know. All I know is that non league football clubs in England post more than Professional Belgian football clubs.

If anyone actually does read this, please feel free to tell me if I’m being harsh. I just love my football. Like the pictures I posted of Pafos FC stadium last week. I made a 4 mile round trip, walking, in 30+ degrees heat because I love football. I find it weird as well when I go to follow a player and my mum, honestly, has more Twitter followers than the player. I know Belgium’s population isn’t massive, and the majority of Belgians must support Anderlecht or Club Brugge if they don’t support their local club. Along with that, I realise not every fan has social media. Maybe I’m expecting more.

But possibly, for the commercial side, as well as providing information and highlights, why not make more of one of the biggest platforms on the internet. And it’s free!

Posted in Matches in Brief

Goals Galore at the BosuilStadion as the Champions Slip

After a raft of fantastic away performances so far this weekend, along with dreadful defending, Genk, Anderlecht and Standard were hoping to continue the trend! 

And starting at the Bosuil, fans were treated to 8 goals! De Smurfen were hoping to finally bag their first win of the campaign and they had this match wrapped up by half time. Mbwana Samatta, Leandro Trossard and a fine individual run and finish from Siebe Schrijvers raced the team from Limburg into a 3-0 lead! Before you could catch your breath,  Joeri Dequevy pulled a goal back. So 3-1 and just over a quarter of the match played! This is where Albert Stuivenberg felt better, when Samatta doubled his tally on the day.

Antwerp had a mountain to climb, and the match was basically sealed and sewn up when Arslanagic put the ball into his own net making it 5-1. The Great Old rallied and never gave up with a late surge scoring through Owusu and Arslanagic atoning for his earlier own goal, but it was too little too late. I personally think this is positive for Antwerp to stop complacency further down the line, whereas Genk will feel better claiming their first win of the campaign.

Next up saw Charleroi host Anderlecht. A match where either Charleroi would lose their 100% record, or Anderlecht will continue to splutter this season. Splutter maybe harsh, but Les Mauves haven’t shown the style that won them the title last season. 

After a goalless first half however, it was Charleroi who hit the front. Ten minutes into the second half Amara Baby rasped the ball past Mats Sels from the edge of the box into the roof of the net at the front post. Anderlecht on the back foot. Could Rene Weiler get a response of champions? 

In short…no. Peruvian Cristian Benavente scored an even better individual effort than Schrijvers. Beating 3 defenders before slotting past Sels, sneaking it in at the far post. Brilliant result for Charleroi as they keep pace with Brugge at the top, whereas Anderlecht haven’t found their stride just yet…

Lastly, Sint Truiden welcomed Standard Liege to the Staaien in the first match since Tintin Marquez. Another goalless first half (which I missed) was followed by a scrappy second half (of what I’ve seen because I have an 18 month old boy scrambling around my apartment!) but with the snippets I was allowed to see, Ochoa was certainly the busier out of the two keepers! 

With five minutes to go, Collins Fai saw his second yellow card, where in honesty, I thought it may have been a bit harsh, but could STVV take advantage of this? Well, the task was possibly made easier, as Orlando Sa saw a straight red by kicking out. VAR worked so well in truth as Sint Truiden took the lead. Again, woeful defending as there was a mix up from a cross and from 2 yards out, Yohan Boli nodded home.

Standard Liege. The curators of their own downfall through wasted chances and ill discipline saw De Kanaries take a lead that they would hold onto. A fine win in the end, no matter how and late it happened.

Posted in Matches in Brief

Anybody Fancy Defending?

I have decided to post this blog now rather than this morning because firstly, hopefully someone will read it and because it could still be fresh in the morning right? Anyway, the title is self explanatory when you look at some of the goals scored in the Belgian Pro League today.

And starting with the last match at the Versluys Arena, Oostende gifted 3 goals to Beveren frankly. To sum up, Silvio Proto who is an experienced and still a decent goalkeeper, basically bounced the ball onto Nana Ampomah’s head before he stuck the ball into an empty net. Then Zinho Gano got on the scene, firstly dispossessing the Oostende defender and slotting the ball just inside the post, and then from a cleared corner, the ball came back in where it was a 4 vs 1 in favour of De Kustboys, and Gano nodded home.

Beveren ran out 3-0 winners and were of course 3-0 up at half time. This is truly embarrassing and poor from Oostende. I genuinely feel sorry for the fans where their jubilation of last season has just been sucked out of them. No wins in any competition and have just faultered unbelievably. On the other hand, all credit to Phillipe Clement and Beveren who have 5 points so far and have looked very good in every match so far!

The other ‘heroes’ in my opinion are Mouscron. Finding their highlights have been near on impossible unfortunately for me, but a goal in each half from Taiwo Awoniyi and Dimitri Mohamed saw off Lokeren. What a terrible start Lokeren have had too! Goalless and on their second manager of the season already! Peter Maes hasn’t hit the ground running and if they’re demolished next weekend against Beveren, which is possible, will he suffer the same fate as Rùnar Kristinsson? Highly unlikely, which I still feel uncomfortable about if I’m honest.

The Tricolores will have to be without Koen Persoons too who saw 2 yellows, and of course 2 lemons make a strawberry. I had my doubts about Mouscron this pre season, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The club have shown real determination to succeed this season, so far anyway, and 6 points out of mine is a fantastic return already!

Kortrijk travelled to Eupen where the cream rose to the top. De Kerels ran out 2-1 winners, and if Eupen were better defensively, again, it could’ve been a totally different story. Van Crombrugge let a tame effort from Jovan Stojanovic sneak in at the front post late in the first half. Then with one ball straight down the middle of the pitch, Teddy Chevalier looped a sumptuous lob over the keeper to wrap up the game in the second half. Jordan Loties scored a diving header from a corner to halve the deficit, but it was too little too late. With sackings all the rage already this season, will Jordi Condom see out this week? Let alone this season?!? Kortrijk yet again go from strength to strength, building from last week’s victory.

In the first match of the evening, a 1-1 draw took place at the AFAS Stadion. Gent took the lead through a Samuel Kalu finish 3 yards out, after good work from Kalifa Coulibaly down the left. But with time running out, a simple set piece routine caught out De Buffalos, and Tim Matthys (thank you for the like on Twitter Tim) struck a venomous effort into the bottom corner. The pure definition of a daisy cutter! Gent finally get a point on the board whereas Mechelen maintain their 100% draw record. Both teams do however seem to be petrified to lose, so any points will do right now!

Last night saw the top 2 battle at the Regenboogstadion where the Blauw-Zwart came out on top. Goals from Emma Dennis Bonaventure (who else) and a Jelle Vossen penalty sealed the away win. Zulte rallied and hit back through Aaron Leya Isaka with plenty of time left, but regardless of what players were saying on twitter about VAR, Brugge have maintained their 100% record. I truly believed Ivan Leko may not have been fit to lead Club Brugge this season, but so far he has definitely proved me wrong! Just a minor setback for Zulte Waregem who have been great so far, a blip along the long, loooong road of this season.

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Nicolas Verdier

Looking across the matches in the Pro League, I felt which team needed three points the most? Of course, 3 points is vital to every club. Every club needs a win, and the way sackings are occurring, managers need them more! And really, possibly none more than Jordi Condom.

That’s where Nicolas Verdier comes in. The 30 year old Frenchman is, of sorts, the replacement for Henry Onyekuru. Since the Nigerian has left, goals will need to be spread around the team or picked up by an individual. For the Pandas sake, they’ll hope it’s Verdier.

Eupen have had a terrible start. Eight goals conceded isn’t great, but then again, they have had the 2 teams sitting top of the table right now. As tough a start as Antwerp, yet Antwerp have dealt with their matches far better. Nicolas Verdier was not only signed to replace goals, but hopefully add experience through his age. With such a young squad at the Kehrweg stadium, his experience, sprinkled with some others, will be pivotal this term.

With a modest career, his never performed at a ‘big club’ mainly making his big break when he signed for Mechelen in 2015. Scoring 9 goals in the regular season last season, including one against Eupen, he’ll hope to do better this season, mainly because he’ll surely get more minutes, plus, with tche amount of goals Eupen managed to score last term, it’ll be either down to the individual being clinical when the chances come, or Eupen being that attackingly open (most likely a mixture of both). 

With Kortrijk up next, Eupen would like to start their season as of tomorrow. Any result can literally happen between these 2 in my opinion, with Kortijk being more unpredictable compared to last season, as in they may be more consistent? All I’m hopeful of is a good match and for my sake, for Verdier to at least put in a performance for this post, and, for an evenly contested match.

Posted in Matches in Brief

Match Day 3 Run Down

It hit me yesterday that as of Sunday night, 10% of the Pro League regular season would done with. We’re only in mid August and yeah I’m thinking ‘Why is the season going so fast!?!’. Bit of an exaggeration but if I didn’t think it were fair I wouldn’t have said it.

And starting with tonight there are two huge matches. Arsenal vs Leicester is one, but the one I’m focusing on here is the top of the table clash between Zulte Waregem and Club Brugge. Essevee top the table on goal difference but both have maximum points. Brugge will have to do it without Jose Izquierdo who has joined Brighton for a reported club record fee of £13.5 million. Even though he is a difference maker, there’s no surprise he has gone to pastures new and hasn’t actually played for Blauw-Zwart in the league yet. It Dennis Bonaventure who could be the difference tonight. Both would love maximum points but a draw may suit Brugge right now.

Saturday sees Mechelen host a Gent side who haven’t a point to their name. Mechelen have two draws in the bank so far, both coming from behind. De Buffalos would love to get off the mark though as they just seem to have stalled in every way. Mats Rits will again look to be the key in midfield, with Stefan Drazic being the winner for the home team, unless, well, who would you wanna name to step up for Gent? Kubo? Simon? Kalu? Could be a top match to kick off Saturday’s round of matches.

The last match on Saturday sees another winless team in Oostende welcome Beveren who drew with Mechelen last weekend and have exactly the same points tally. Both these teams are looking for their first wins of the season and with Beveren actual showing some real quality, drawing from the jaws of defeat…and victory, Waasland will hope if they’re in a promising position they’ll hold onto it. Oostende will probably just like a goal…and a clean sheet. Two 1-0 defeats have put them in a negative position so far. Last week against Anderlecht could’ve been predicted, but losing to Mouscron at home certainly wasn’t. The way Belgian football has gone this week, it’s highly unlikely, but would a defeat for Oostende or Gent see the back of Hein Vanhaezebrouck or Yves Vanderhaeghe?

Squeezed between these two matches is Eupen at home to Kortrijk and Lokeren vs Mouscron. Two matches where goals will certainly be scored. Firstly, because Eupen can’t keep a clean sheet, along with the fact they can score a goal, albeit they’ve only netted in one match, last week away to Club Brugge. Jordi Condom will hope Eupen can finally get off the mark in what could be a long and hard season. Kortrijk on the other hand have performed reasonably well in my opinion. A 1-0 win last time out saw the end of Rùnar Kristinsson’s reign at Lokeren and could it domthe same to Señor Condom?

And speaking of Lokeren, Peter Maes will look for goals at the Daknamstadion against Mouscron. Unfair on Kristinsson where this match could’ve been the springboard for Lokeren, but with Mouscron winning away at Oostende and losing at home to Charleroi, they’ve had a tough start, but a decent points haul so far in my opinion. It all depends on which Mouscron side wants to turn up on Saturday?

Sunday afternoon kicks us off with one of the matches of the weekend. Antwerp who have been magnificent so far have another tough test, at home to Genk. De Smurfen haven’t really got going so far, drawing at home and losing away, taking the lead at some point in both matches too. Antwerp who have had such a tough start on paper will look to their togetherness and team spirit, as well as quality to get them through this match at the Bosuilstadion. Genk will just hope to grab hold of the lead and look after it til the final whistle, no matter which minute that comes in!

The middle match on Sunday brings us Charleroi, another team on maximum points, against Champions Anderlecht. Les Zèbres will hope to gain top spot, depending on tonight’s match of course, whereas Anderlecht will want to keep in touch with the top three, even at this point of the season. The competitive nature of these league is great. Okay were only 2 matches in at the point I’ve written this, but the scrap for points early on is vital, especially against those who will most likely be around you come March, April and May.

Lastly, Sint Truiden host Standard Liege who will also hope to keep their unbeaten start and within touch of those around them. Whilst I’m writing this, STVV have apparently hired Jonas De Roeck as their manager. The Spaniard who spent his entire career in Belgium (except for three seasons at Augsburg) so he’ll know the Pro League exceptionally well. Without knocking De Roeck, which I’m not, I’m actually knocking the club. Is this the man they want? He will have ideas and at a point, an expansive system due to his age and that he’ll want to impress, but is this a hasty appointment? As hasty as the Marquez acquisition?

But back to match, unfortunately it could be a baptism of fire for Jonas, that’s if he’ll officially take charge this Sunday, against Les Rouches, who have been impressive under Ricardo Sa Pinto. A fantastic match to end another weekend of Belgian football, this could be the best of the lot at the Staaien…some how.