• Monday, 14 December 2009

    Bordeaux cruise on: Ligue 1 reviews

    Lille 4-0 St Etienne
    Toulouse 2-0 Sochaux

    Le Mans 2-1 Valenciennes
    Nancy 1-2 Rennes
    Lens 2-0 Nice
    Marseille 2-0 Boulogne
    Lorient 0-0 Auxerre
    Sochaux 1-0 Grenoble
    Monaco 0-4 Lille
    PSG 3-0 St Etienne
    Toulouse 0-1 Montpellier
    Lyon 0-1 Bordeaux

    Eight goals in the week - indeed, 16 in four matches - for Lille has seen them surge up the table and emerge as challengers. After beating Valenciennes and Lyon in previous weeks, they stuck four past hapless St Etienne on Wednesday and repeated the trick in Monaco at the weekend, their opponents ending a man short each time. Pierre-Alain Frau set them on their way against Les Verts with a Yohan Cabaye penalty, Gervinho and Adil Rami's stunning free-kick following in the second half to round off another big win and they picked up exactly where they left off on Sunday. Tulio De Mele's double broke the backs of Monaco before Adriano was sent off and Cabaye converted the penalty. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the by now customary fourth as Lille move up to third.

    Montpellier still sit second, a fierce volley from Souleymane Camara enough to beat Toulouse who had beaten Sochaux in their round 17 clash earlier in the week (it's all to do with Europa League commitments) thanks to André-Pierre Gignac. But the leaders continue to be Bordeaux who go back out to a four-point lead and condemned Lyon to their lowest league placing in nine years. Marouane Chamakh's late, scrambled header won it for Les Girondins and leave Lyon without a win at home since September and the locals are getting restless. Marseille are up to fourth and still have games in hand. They beat Boulogne who are, on form, probably the worst side in the league right now, with Gabriel Heinze athletically heading OM in front and Taye Taiwo hitting the second from the penalty spot after Hatem Ben Arfa was tripped. Ben Arfa was on the wrong end of a shocking challenge from Adefemi Olubayo late on, for which the Nigerian defender was sent off, but no harm done to the Marseille midfielder who is on the charm offensive to try and restore himself in the affection of Didier Deschamps.

    Auxerre still haven't won since they hit top spot a few weeks back and were held 0-0 by Lorient this week, though were indebted to a superb goal-line clearance from Adama Coulibaly to keep it so. Rennes leapt ahead of a number of fringe contenders with a win over ten-man Nancy who also missed a penalty. Anthony Le Tallec scored a superb stoppage time free-kick to help Le Mans to a 2-1 win over Valenciennes who slip back and PSG got back to winning ways with a comfortable win over St Etienne. After Les Verts were so grateful to Jeremie Janot for keeping them in the game a week previously, he duly went and had a stinker in the capital, gifting the first and being shown up for the second. There was nothing he could do about Mevlut Erding's third though.

    Grenoble's winning run ends at one after defeat to Sochaux. Yassin Mikari put Sochaux ahead, but Grenoble spurned a great chance to pick up more points when Danijel Ljuboja missed a penalty. Lens plunged Nice back in trouble by beating them at the Felix-Bollaert, Kanga Akale and Toifilou Maoulida on target in the first half. Nice had Mamadou Bagayoko sent off early in the second period, making the task that much harder.

    We've the second part of round 17 this week:

    Valenciennes v Auxerre
    Monaco v Rennes
    Le Mans v Grenoble
    Lorient v Marseille
    Montpellier v Bordeaux
    Nancy v Nice
    Lyon v Boulogne
    PSG v Lens

    Big games at top and bottom with Grenoble really having to beat Le Mans if they've any chance of getting themselves out of trouble. Recent performances have been good, but the pressure is very much on this proverbial six-pointer. At the top, are Montpellier really challengers or just riding the crest of a wave which will shortly peter out? We'll see after they take on Bordeaux.

    Lyon face the terrible Boulogne at home in the unusual position of having to win it and win it well to silence those murmurings about the direction the club is going in under Claude Puel. There's a tasty clash in Paris where Lens are the visitors. There's little love lost between the clubs and it's usually a feisty occasion. Elsewhere, there are some good match-ups between clubs on the periphery of the title battle. Marseille will get a good test of their credentials up in Lorient, as will Rennes down in Monaco where the hosts will also want to get their faltering challenge back on track. Auxerre and Valenciennes both need points to keep pace at that end of the table while Nancy and Nice need them for very different reasons.

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