• Thursday, 17 December 2009

    Perrin out as St Etienne slip into bottom three: Ligue 1 reviews

    Valenciennes 0-0 Auxerre
    Monaco 1-0 Rennes
    Le Mans 1-0 Grenoble
    Lorient 1-2 Marseille
    Montpellier 0-1 Bordeaux
    Nancy 2-0 Nice
    Lyon 2-0 Boulogne
    PSG 1-1 Lens

    St Etienne weren't involved in this midweek round of games having played, and lost heavily to, Lille a week ago, but drop into the bottom three as other results went against them. As a result, Alain Perrin has been sacked. The 4-0 loss to Lille was followed up by a 3-0 loss against PSG and a win for Le Mans on Wednesday dropped them down into the relegation zone. Thorstein Helstad put Le Mans ahead early on against Grenoble with a terrific weaving run and that was enough. St Etienne are still the most successful side in French football with ten league titles, but those glory days seem a long way back and the latest chapter starts with a home game against Marseille.

    At the other end, Bordeaux opened up a six-point lead with a win over Montpellier, though manager Laurent Blanc was far from happy with the performance. Jussie grabbed the only goal of the game, firing in from a tight angle as Bordeaux did just enough to get by. They even had the luxury of a Yoan Gourcuff penalty miss. Marseille move up to second after coming from behind to beat Lorient who were ahead through Marama Vahirua's penalty shortly after the interval. Jordan Ayew equalised fifteen minutes later and Souleyman Diawara headed in a stoppage time winner to help OM past Montpellier and into second place, still with that game in hand. Lyon ended their miserable run with a comfortable 2-0 win over Boulogne. Miralem Pjanic and César Delgado, in the last minute, saw Les Gones home. Valenciennes and Auxerre held one another to a goalless draw, meaning they both lose ground on the front runners.

    A real collectors item at Parc des Princes: a Claude Makelele goal. And from open play at that. There were twenty minutes left when he put PSG ahead, but Toifilou Maoulida levelled it up for Lens four minutes later and that's how it ended. Monaco arrested their slide with a win over Rennes and, for a change, it wasn't Nene who scored. Instead, it was the South Korean Park Chu-Young with a neat back-post volley on twenty minutes. Nancy dropped Nice right back into the mixer down at the bottom with a 2-0 win over the Riviera club who failed to muster a single effort on goal. Julien Féret and Chris Malonga scored within two minutes of each other early in the second half.

    Packing in the fixtures ahead of the winter break, there's a full round of games on Saturday and Sunday:

    Valenciennes v Lens
    Bordeaux v Lorient
    Montpellier v Nancy
    Boulogne v Sochaux
    Rennes v PSG
    Grenoble v Nice
    St Etienne v Marseille
    Lille v Le Mans
    Auxerre v Toulouse
    Monaco v Lyon

    Bordeaux will have to play better than they have been recently to get the better of Lorient and they need the points to stay ahead of the chasing pack as both Montpellier and Marseille look favourites to win their games. How St Etienne respond to Perrin's dismissal will be key in that game, while Montpellier have bounced back from defeat once already this season and look in good shape to do so again against Nancy. Top game and one that really could define either participants season is in Monaco where Lyon are the visitors. Defeat for either would all but end hopes of a championship, especially for Monaco, while a win would put them very much back in the race.

    Big game at the bottom sees Nice go to Grenoble - another six-pointer and a vital one for the Alpine club. Even at this stage, time is against Grenoble. They've got to start picking up points and multiples of three against the other struggling clubs. I still maintain Boulogne are actually playing worse than Grenoble and they welcome Sochaux at the weekend. Rennes take on PSG with both clubs needing points to maintain any realistic push for Europe, same as it is for Toulouse and Auxerre who go up against each other and Valenciennes will look to get back to winning ways at home to lowly Lens.

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