Arsenal v Anderlecht

Scouting Report - RSC Anderlecht

As a team boasting a huge number of youngsters, Anderlecht were relatively unknown to Arsenal for the meeting in Brussels two weeks ago. However, after an excellent performance from Besnik Hasi’s side, Arsenal know they face another difficult challenge this evening.

Anderlecht were well-organised throughout, remaining compact to prevent Arsenal passing through them, and turning defence into attack smoothly with some excellent quick counter-attacking, particularly in the second half.

Their formation was 4-4-1-1 without possession, although plenty of players are given license to sprint forward into attack.

"In Brussels they played relatively high up the pitch, with the pace of right-sided centre back Chancel Mbemba Mangulu particularly useful"

That doesn’t necessarily mean Anderlecht will play deep. In Brussels they played relatively high up the pitch, with the pace of right-sided centre back Chancel Mbemba Mangulu particularly useful. He’s a converted right back, while his partner Olivier Deschacht has spent much of his career at left back – so this is a defensive pairing based around mobility rather than aerial power.

Deschacht could return to left back if aggressive centre back Bram Nuytinck returns, however, and it’s worth pointing out that Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck did get some joy running in behind the defence.

Anderlecht attacked powerfully from full back, too. Left back Frank Acheampong is naturally a winger and surged forward repeatedly, while right back Anthony Vanden Borre charged forward to combine with right winger Andy Najar, who opened the scoring. Vanden Borre and Najar can both play on the right of the defence or midfield, and are therefore effective at covering for one another when needed.

At the top of the midfield triangle is clever No 10 Dennis Praet, who caused problems with his drifts towards the flanks – particularly the right, where he combined effectively with Vanden Borre and Najar for both Najar’s opening goal, and Vanden Borre’s late slice which struck the woodwork.


Andy Najar playing against Galatasaray

Andy Najar playing against Galatasaray


Up front, Anderlecht used Ivorian striker Cyriac as a lone striker, and he roamed the channels dangerously throughout. He got Nacho Monreal booked early on for a clumsy bodycheck, and later caused Per Mertesacker problems with his sheer speed.

Cyriac is arguably more comfortable with a strike partner, like reliable poacher Matias Suarez or club record signing Aleksandar Mitrovic, but Anderlecht were thrashed 3-0 by Dortmund in a 4-4-2 shape, so it’s unlikely Hasi will use two strikers from the start on Tuesday.

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