Etienne Michon comments on the latest Ligue 1 results, including Toulouse’s first loss, Paris’ victory and another draw for Lyon and Marseille.
Paris back on track as Arles-Avignon crashes and burns
A merciless Paris team crushed promoted side Arles-Avignon at Parc des Princes on Saturday; as PSG coach Antoine Kombouaré decided to bench keeper Grégory Coupet and defender Zoumana Camara, his team stopped a streak of three consecutive losses and easily went past Arles with a 4-0 victory. Two goals by Nênê (inluding a direct free kick), a header by Sakho and Guillaume Hoarau’s third Ligue 1 goal of the season gave Michel Estevan’s team a hard time. Arles never had a chance to even tie the game, and its shaky and slow defense (which includes Francisco Pavon and Alvaro Mejia, two former Real Madrid players from the Galacticos era) failed to protect former Caen and St Etienne keeper Vincent Planté. However, Paris’ real level remains unknown, as this makes it 5 losses in 5 games for Ligue 1’s smallest budget, whose season start is starting to look more and more like Grenoble’s last season. As a reminder, Grenoble is now at the back of the standings in Ligue 2.
Bordeaux down… again
New Bordeaux coach Jean Tigana probably had trouble finding sleep on Sunday night after his team’s third loss of the season. The Girondins’ defensive weaknesses can no longer be explained by the absence of key players like Ciani or Carrasso. Both French internationals returned against Nice, but defensive mistakes remained a constant. Nice scored first thanks to its captain Julien Sablé. Then, during the second half, Habib Bamogo exploited a lost ball by Brazilian defender Henrique to beat Cédric Carrasso. Bordeaux only managed to score through a PK during stoppage time, as summer signing and former Nice striker Anthony Modeste scored his second goal of the season for the away side. The former champion looks like an average Ligue 1 team without his stars Gourcuff and Chamakh; in addition to that, Blanc’s departure had a huge negative impact for the club. Next week’s home game against Lyon is likely to decide which of the two clubs’ situation can officially be called a ‘crisis’.
Lyon is still the same… And that could be a problem
This Saturday’s home game against Valenciennes looked like the perfect chance to finally start the season for Lyon. Three days away from its first Champions’ League game (as Schalke 04 will visit Stade de Gerland), Lyon needed to show some improvements following a disappointing 0-2 loss at Lorient two weeks ago. Claude Puel and his men had reasons to be hopeful : Lisandro Lopez, Ligue 1’s best player last season, and Yoann Gourcuff, the most expensive signing of the summer in France, both earned their first start of the season. Moreover, Toulalan was back in a defensive midfield position, as latest signing Pape Diakhaté made his OL debut. A quite convincing first half, with Gourcuff providing some link in the middle of the field, allowed OL to score first thanks to youngster Jérémy Pied, who victoriously headed a Briand cross into the back of the net. But the locals failed to score a second goal and progressively saw their domination fade away. Valenciennes finally managed to equalize at the 69th minute on a corner kick, thanks to defender Gaetan Bong. Despite a late push and a missed chance by Michel Bastos during stoppage time, Lyon did not manage to score the game-winner and had to earn just a point.
The Champion stays stuck too
None of the big teams won this weekend, as a good OM was forced to a draw at home by Monaco. Despite dominating most of the game, Deschamps’ men lacked efficiency in front of the goal. As summer signing and French international André-Pierre Gignac made his Marseille debut, another international, Mathieu Valbuena, struck first with a tremendous shot that went past Ruffier to give the locals a deserved lead. However, former Auxerre striker Niculae equalized before halftime following a deflected shot by Aubameyang : the third goal of the season for the Romanian international, who is remembered at Auxerre for a year-long goalless streak. Marseille’s domination became harder and harder to bear for Monaco, and the away side’s second goal came as a real surprise as South Korean international striker Park Chu-Yung beat Mandanda to give his team a rather lucky lead. But OM’s efforts to tie the game paid off when Monaco defender Adriano sent a Valbuena cross into the back of his own net. Despite a late rally that saw Gignac score a goal that was denied by the referee, Marseille failed to secure a new win and is still far from its best level.
Toulouse falls, Auxerre remains winless
In the other games of the weekend, Rennes beat Sochaux 2-1 and confirmed they would be a team to watch this season. St Etienne came back from Toulouse with a surprising 1-0 victory thanks to a goal by veteran midfielder Laurent Battles (first loss of the season for the locals who had won their first four Ligue1 games), enabling the legendary club to enjoy its best ranking in ten years (3rd). In the Bretagne derby, Lorient and Brest neutralized each other in a 0-0 tie. In another derby, Lille notched its first win of the season as it crushed local rivals Lens in a 4-1 victory where Gervinho and Frau both scored a brace. A few days before to face Italian giant AC Milan in Champions’ League, Auxerre failed to beat Caen at home in a 1-1 draw, as wonderkid Youssef El-Arabi scored his third goal of the season. Finally, Nancy came back from Montpellier with a 2-1 victory.
This week’s results in full:
AJ Auxerre 1-1 Caen
Lyon 1-1 Valenciennes
Montpellier 1-2 AS Nancy Lorraine
Paris Saint-Germain 4-0
Stade Rennes 2-1 Sochaux
Toulouse 0-1 St Etienne
Lens 1-4 Lille
Brest 0-0 Lorient
Nice 2-1 Bordeaux
Marseille 2-2 AS Monaco