MICHAEL ADUBATO - Friday, January 21, 2011
The Jupiler Pro League returns from the winter break with the marquee game of the weekend being defending champions Anderlecht hosting Standard Liege for what promises to be a thriller.
After a winter break and then a pair of friendlies in the Spanish sunshine where they drew 0 - 0 with PSV Eindhoven and then beat Murcia 1 - 0, Anderlecht will look to avenge their humiliating defeat at the hands of Liege earlier in the season. Les Mauves were spanked by Oguchi Onyewu's former team in October by a 5 - 1 scoreline.
American midfielder Sacha Kljestan will be hoping to get the nod and start for Anderlecht although coach Ariël Jacobs will be spoiled for choice with an almost full squad to choose from. The Walloonian side has also come back from the break with a solid, healthy roster.
The game within the game on Sunday was expected to be the return of Axel Witsel to the scene of the crime. It was at Stade Maurice Defrasne in August 2009 when the Liege midfielder stamped on Anderlecht's Marcin Wasilewski ankle causing the Polish international to suffer open fractures to both the tibia and fibula. Witsel was suspended for eight games by the Belgian FA. Just before the winter break however, the Belgian international received a red card against Cercle Brugge thereby making him ineligible for Sunday's game.
Jelle Van Damme, who helped Les Mauves to their title last year, will return to Brussels but this time in the colors of the visitors. The Belgian left the club in the summer for Wolverhampton Wanderers of the English Premiership but returned to his home country this month after just a half dozen appearances.
Anderlecht currently sits atop of the league standings, while Liege is in 6th place, 17 points adrift.