Anderlecht – Arsenal, The Untold pre match talk

By Walter Broeckx

Anderlecht. If there is one team that can be called the best team in Belgium it is Anderlecht. I say this with gritted teeth. Not because I support one of their rivals. But because my local team lost their biggest talent I had ever seen play to them.  And some other stories that go even back from before I was born when my local team was the big challenger of Anderlecht for 3 years and only losing a title when a referee who did the last Anderlecht match gave a non existant penalty in favour of Anderlecht so they could win the title.

The story goes that this referee said afterwards that it would have been bad for Belgian football if Berchem (my local team) would have won the title.

But that is my petite histoire and some of the reasons my teeth gnashed a bit.

But apart from that one stolen title it is fair to say that Anderlecht has been THE team in Belgian football since the end of world war 2.

In fact Anderlecht only joined the top division just before the war in 1935-1936. And they won their first league title in 1946-1947. And since then….they won 33 league titles. I once heard that they win a league title every second year since they won their first. So it is the truth when one can say that they dominated football in Belgium completely.

Because in the other seasons when they haven’t won, they finished 20 times as runners up. And they never finished outside the top 6.

Apart from their 33 league titles they also won 9 Belgian cups and lost the final 3 times. They won the Belgian super cup 12 times and lost it 7 times. This is the Belgian version of the Charity Shield or Community Shield.

And they also have a glorious European past. They won the European cup winners cup twice. They won the Uefa cup once. And as you all know or should know they also lost one final in Europe. Yes it was against Arsenal. And that was my first real taste of Arsenal and the fact they beat the team we disliked in Belgium will have added to us visiting Highbury some nine years later when we came to London with our school.

But Anderlecht even won the European Super cup twice.

So if you want to talk about a big club in Belgium…Anderlecht is the name to remember.

They are one of the few teams (Club Brugge and Standard Liege the others) to have more than the local supporters.

They play in the too small Constant Vanden Stock stadium renamed after the father of the current president who manage to turn them from Belgium top team to a European top team for a while till the big money came flowing to other leagues the the Belgium league became unimportant. The stadium has a capacity of 21500 but for European matches this goes down to 19500. A stadium that gives an old English kind of atmosphere.

But the supporters are spoiled and want to see champagne football as they call it. If the team plays not up to their standards they will turn against their team. A bit spoiled one could say. But who wouldn’t be if you keep winning things.

So you will probably not see them parking the bus. as this goes against their nature and against their fans. Now I must say I don’t follow Belgian football that much so it could have changed but from what I can tell they are not really a team that will defend with 11 men around their penalty area.  I have heard that they did try such a thing at PSG last CL campaign in Paris. But at home I don’t think they will do it that easily.

Anderlecht are currently leading the Jupiler League (name of the brewery that is the main sponsor of the league in Belgium) with 3 points more than Club Brugge. The only two teams that are likely to be involved in the league title this season.

Their current form is not that great for their standards. Two draws in a row in the league and a home defeat in the CL against Dortmund.

They do have a few young talents as their youth academy is usually good enough to produce at least one new player ready for the first team each season. Tielemans and Praet are the latest of them. Kompany and Lukaky are the more familiar names for people in the PL. Both came from Anderlecht at the start of their career.

One the better players this season is Steven Dufour who came back after an adventure in Portugal to the Belgium league. A hard working midfielder with a good pass. Proto is a good keeper usually. Deschacht is one of the long standing players at left back. Van den Borre played in the PL for a while at Portsmouth after his career in Italy didn’t work out as planned.

Matias Suarez is probably their best player in the attacking compartment of the team for the moment but he has had a long injury period behind him.

One final thing that has caught the eye when it comes to Anderlecht in the last years.  Penalties. Now Anderlecht has been the Manchester United when it comes to penalties in Belgium. They have had far more of them than any other team. So teams who play Anderlecht almost find it natural to get a penalty against them. But since a few years there seem to be a curse on Anderlecht and penalties. They nowadays miss more penalties than the score from the spot.

Players fighting each other to take it and then…miss it. It happened just a few weeks ago again. In one season they missed 11 of the 17 penalties they got.  I think they must have had the most dreadful penalty statistics of all teams in the world for the last seasons.  So if they get a penalty, there is still hope.

It is one of the teams you love or hate in Belgium. I don’t do the hating but I do the disliking. The only thing I ask from Arsenal is to win this match. Just win it!

(Footnote – speaking of penalties today is the anniversary of the day when Pires and Henry tried a trick penalty against Man C but got it all wrong.  Arsenal still won though).

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30 Replies to “Anderlecht – Arsenal, The Untold pre match talk”

  1. Thanks Walter,as always an interesting write up.Good luck to the Gunners tonight.
    COYG! Aha and Amen!

  2. Thanks for the background on Anderlecht Walter. I remember as a kid we played them (I may be wrong).

    Thing is; its the bosses birthday today, so a good win to celebrate it with is well-called for!!!

    C’mon you Gunners!!

  3. Carlos Velasco Carballo is the ref tonight.

    We had him 3 times previously. Each time we won with a small margin. At Montpellier 1-2 (giving a penalty against us but not giving one in our favour when it should have been)
    Fenerbace a 2-0 home win in the Qualifying match
    And a 2-1 home win against Olympiakos in 2011.

    According to his statistics he is a home referee. Penalties go to the home teams and yellow and red cards go against the visiting teams most of the time.

    He was the ref of the match Brazil-Colombia where Brazil players kicked James Rodriguez from left to right without being carded. As a result it escalated in to the serious injury of Neymar late in the match when a Colombian player decided that it was time to kick back without the ref doing anything yet again.

    Luckily Anderlecht is not really a team that is known for playing a dirty game.

  4. @Walter

    I know you are a very busy man, with many things occupying your time, but have you thought any more re the principle of a video compilation of all the nasty fouls and bad decisions that Arsenal have suffered?

    Many thanks.

  5. Good morning Mr Walter. We have to win this match and the reverse game by all possible means. The 2 wins will place us on 9 points on the table and I got a suspicision, Dortmound may drop 2 points today at Galatasaray. Meaning, if Arsenal beat Dortmound at the Emirates stadium, Arsenal will top the table with 12 points going into their last game away to Galatasaray which the Gunners must also win to avoid being placed 2nd on the final table. The journey of a 1000 miles begins with taking one step forward. Arsenal must be confident and have a positive winning mentality for this game. Like the boss have said, that extra winning edge is at the moment lacking in the team. This is so because no Gunner was ready to undertake the extra responsibility of scoring the goal or goals that will win their games. (Sanchez should try to be scoring more than one goal per game) The Gunners have been playing a normal game in their games which has resulted for the drawn games they ‘ve been having so far. As teams used to be extraly prepared and raise the level of their games when meeting Arsenal, the Gunners must redouble their efforts to be producing classy performance that will win them games. Talking about packing the bus, the Gunners must prepare for any eventuality, because that could happen. Anderlecht may employ that tactics as a ploy to draw the Gunners out, and frustrate them, then hit us on the counter. The Gunners must be careful on how they went about unlocking the Anderlecht defenses, they should not allow themselves to get caught on the break.

  6. bjtgooner,
    I have and I am trying to work something out.
    But will not get your hopes high too soon. But don’t worry it is on our minds.

  7. And yes talking about being busy I just got phoned by the French speaking TV station asking me a few questions about where we will be (not in the stadium f*ck), where Gooners will meet in Brussels (I think the Bourse will be the place to be in the centre of Brussels for those without ticket as far as I have heard).

  8. Walter

    Thanks, that is good news.

    Also, I am trying (or more accurately experimenting) a little on the project. The technicalities however maybe a bit beyond my capabilities.

  9. bjtgooner,
    I know what you mean 🙂

    So I decided to ask for outside help from one source. Waiting for the answer if they can or are willing to help me now.

  10. Walter,

    nice preview!

    Seems that Bjtgooner may have raised a valid point.

    i do very much enjoy your blog, but sometimes, when ive just watched arsenal play badly or without passion or direction, and this happens to every team i know , i come on here and read what always seems to be, lets say a different take on things.
    You always seem to blame the ref, or some other variable instead of the team or the manager taking direct responsibility. I respect that to a degree as you are are staunch fans of the way we do things , but, when there is nothing that can be said other than , we played crap, or wenger got it wrong this time, your relentless search for other factors frankly can appear devalue your other, work. To be honest it was easy to defend wenger until 2012 , logic dictated that. After that time its becoming harder, his decisions more bizaare, his attitude towards questioning more defensive, his statements more and more clashing..

    My point is that if you really believe there is bias towards arsenal, why dont you as gooner said put together a video reel of key decisions gone against us. Compare them to the the other top teams.

    Put all your ref review stats into a easy format with video evidence to support it.

    I know you said its on your mind but this i imagined, considering your general stance would be high up on your agenda of things to do

  11. Walter/bjtgooner

    I may be able to assist in the editing and piecing together of videos providing I have the raw videos to extract the segments of interest to us (in HD of course for best resolution), and depending on how intricate we want the end product to be – I may get input from outside help as well – but its doable!

  12. apo

    Thanks for that, we’ll wait now for Walter to come back & then take it from there. In the meantime I am going to try lifting sections from Arsenal Player to try & get a feel of the project.

  13. Tony, ,

    Thanks for pointing me toward that…

    i noticed this paragraph

    “So in summary I would say, statements like “Starting the season with 6 defenders” is one that requires a huge amount of analysis and reasoning before one can see if it is a valid report of an error. I would say that the issues we raise about referees, the media, financial issues and so on, are done in terms of analysis and deeper consideration – and they reveal something rather rotten in the state of football – and that something is not Mr Wenger.”

    really how can starting the season with 6 defenders need analysis?

    Its a statement of fact

    Please if you could explain this stance a little further many thanks

  14. @ MTLM

    Some would say the team started with 7 defenders just like last season so the need for deeper analysis seems a valid point.

  15. Blaisehayest

    By the same note the manager said that if Vermaelen left we would be bringing in a direct replacement, and he failed to do so. He has also admitted we are short at the back. Could he have anticipated that we would have 3 defenders injured? I believe he could have and should have with the history of injuries at the club. Still, onwards and upwards. Bellerin looks good and the experience will do him good if he plays again. I do think it will be Monreal at CB though.

  16. Jenkinson < Bellerin*

    Vemaelan (still injured) < Chambers

    * possibly to swap around next season with the big kick off for the impressive Debuchy's (another new player!) shirt in three years time – terrible planning eh? Two good young defenders who will have the necessary experience and minutes under their belt at that time. Will Jenks get an England call up this season? What a disaster!

    You could argue that you'd like more. Fine. But argue the numbers or players above haven't been replaced is completely and utterly disingenious. And lame. Either you can't count, or you are an AAAA WOB. One, or the other.

  17. Thanks for this Walter , a nice read . The usual ” lets dampen their confidence ” AAAA punanies have decided to show up !

  18. @finsbury
    October 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    stop…stop!!! evading my mind!!!

    happy footy for tonight!!


  19. Im sorry but wenger said we would replace vermaelen, that is on record. So he thinks chambers can do it, and we have bellerin , fine. But you cant say that was part of any kind of plan, it was reactionary by wenger at best. He’s always leaving things to chance, to luck. and we know that as arsenal fans we dont have much luck with the injuries. Wenger knows we are short of cover, we could have had another defender easily on the books and still had plenty of games for hector over the course of the season.

    Im really happy that bellerin is playing though as i have been looking forward to it since 2011

  20. HELP!!!
    I can only log on to Untold through Recent Posts.
    Gooner News pages omit any reference to Untold. Is it me alone?

  21. @nicky

    Just google “Untold Arsenal” – that should bring up the website – then save the link for future use.

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