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Standard solution to Anderlecht misery

Published: Friday 25 November 2005, 12.13CET
R. Standard de Liège are in pole position as they prepare to meet an RSC Anderlecht side in the midst of a terrible sequence of results.
by Berend Scholten features

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Published: Friday 25 November 2005, 12.13CET

Standard solution to Anderlecht misery

R. Standard de Liège are in pole position as they prepare to meet an RSC Anderlecht side in the midst of a terrible sequence of results.
RSC Anderlecht hope to end what has been a bleak November on a high when they visit Belgian First Division leaders R. Standard de Liège on Saturday. Anderlecht sit two points behind in second place, and victory would return them to the summit.

Fifth defeat
Another defeat, though, would compound Anderlecht's woes - it would be their fifth this month following losses to Liverpool FC, Verbroedering Geel, KVC Westerlo and Chelsea FC.

Psychological boost
Coach Frank Vercauteren, however, would rather contemplate the prospect of a victory that would provide a major psychological boost while keeping the pressure off himself and the team. "The Standard game is important, but not decisive," he said. "The matches against KAA Gent, SV Zulte-Waregem and RAA Louviéroise are just as important."

Extra motivation
There have been mutterings that Anderlecht's recent run could be the beginning of the end for Vercauteren, but the coach played down such rumours. "The board might call this week crucial, but they always want to keep the pressure on," he said. "We talk a lot with the players, but do not lock them up for 24 hours. For a top match like this, they should find enough motivation themselves."

Positive vibes
Midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson echoes that positive attitude. "One good game and we are on the right track again," he said. "Even one good half can do it. We will play our hearts out to get that win." Mbo Mpenza is the visitors' only doubt after sustaining a bruised thigh in Wednesday's defeat by Chelsea.

Title dreams
Anderlecht may be motivated but Standard are equally fired up. Their Maurice Dusfrasne stadium sold out weeks in advance, with the whole of Liege dreaming of the win against their arch-rivals that could catapult them to a first championship since 1983.

Rapaic return
If Standard are to succeed, they must do so without top scorer Mohammed Tchité, who is suspended along with Oguchi Onyewu and Christian Negouai. On the other hand, Milan Rapaic, back at the club after leaving in the summer, should return to the starting XI.

Note of caution
Coach Dominique D'Onofrio expects to face a stronger Anderlecht than the one that succumbed to Chelsea. "I watched that game on television and learned a few things," he said. "I am sure Vercauteren rested some players against Chelsea with the match in Liege in mind."

Last updated: 25/11/05 17.52CET

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