top of page
  • By Alessandro Schiavone in Brussels

Tottenham fans, did you see how far Royal Antwerp's Janssen has come since his troubled London days?


By Alessandro Schiavone from Joseph Marien Stadium in Brussels


Union Saint-Gilloise 2-2 Royal Antwerp


Goals: Eckert (USG), Vines (RA), Ekkelenkamp (RA), Nilsson (USG)


Vincent Janssen’s all-round game and defensive vigour helped Royal Antwerp to an important 2-2 away draw on the turf of last season’s league contestants Union Saint-Gilloise in Brussels.


For Belgium’s Pro League all-time fifth most prolific goalscorer Patrick Groots he’s out on his own in Belgian football. That, despite the presence of strikers of the calibre of Kasper Dolberg, Hugo Cuypers and Dennis Eckert.


And it's easy to see why and back up the 156-goal hero’s statement as Janssen already has five goals in seven matches this term with one of them crucially scored in the Champions League play-offs first leg against AEK Athens. After unloading the baggage of his tormented Tottenham and Fenerbahce spells, Janssen was central to Antwerp completing the national Treble and qualifying to Europe’s premier competition for the maiden time in their history having been funded 143 YEARS ago. Needless to say, his 18 league goals did the job.


Yesterday was the type of game most strikers dread, receiving little service in the box and being forced to track their runners in a box-to-box game. But instead of cutting a frustrated figure and putting his hands around his hips in despair as most old-school strikers like Janssen would likely have done, he made his presence felt at both ends. To his credit, he always finds that pocket of space in central areas to influence the game in another way when the man-marking is tight. In the end the scoreboard may not have shown his name but he did everything else, displaying a tone-setting work ethic and indirectly being involved in the visitors’ equaliser.


His great lay-off for Balikwisha with his back to goal led to Union Saint Gilloise keeper Moris having no choice but to sprint off his line to thwart the initial effort. The rebound though fell invitingly into the path of Sam Vines who rifled a beauty into the top right corner to cancel out Eckert’s penalty.


In the 65th minute, the man who didn’t leave a particularly sweet memory in North London, raced all the way back to break up a dangerous Union Saint-Gilloise attack with a snappy tackle, which earned him the applause of every single travelling supporter.

Ten minutes later, the 29-year-old expertly poked Balikwisha in on goal. The Belgian youngster should have capitalised on such a great delivery, with only Luxembourg international goalkeeper Moris to beat off his line. In his place, we can be sure that Janssen would have slotted an ice-cool finish into the back of the net.


The Dutch striker, who had a season to forget at Spurs in 2016, may not always be easy on the eye but his importance to Antwerp can’t be quantified. How many strikers in his position would put their body on the line for the team instead of selfishly waiting for a killer pass to bury and earn the headlines that way? He’s come a long way since fluffing his lines at White Hart Lane. These days, even when he doesn’t score, he still manages to find a way to be important to his team. And credit to Mark Van Bommel's Royal Antwerp, they also know how to spread the goals around the team when their main man is marked out of the game or receives little service.


When all is said and done, common sense dictates that this Janssen would have held his own in this free-scoring post-Harry Kane Spurs side under Postecoglou. The Australian loves players who throw themselves into challenges with everything they've got and Janssen is a powerhouse at that.


And if he can score that many goals around normal players, imagine how many he’d manage playing in front of or around superstars such as Son Heung-Min, Dejan Kulusevski and James Maddison and with the maturity he has today.


Line-Ups


UNION SAINT-GILLOISE


49 Moris – 5 Mac Allister – 8 Lazare- 10 Lapoussin- 16 Burgess- 17 Terho- 23 Puertas- 24 Vanhoutte- 27 Sadiki- 28 Machida


ROYAL ANTWERP


1 Butez- 2 De Laet- 10 Balikwisha- 11 Muja- 18 Janssen- 21 Vines- 24 Ekkelenkamp- 27 Keita – 34 Bataille- 44 Coulibaly- 48 Vermeeren

Comments


Join our mailing list

bottom of page