PSG slip up, Marseille take steps forward and Lyon show their strengths

PSG rarely drop points at home, before the Monaco game at the weekend they had dropped 3 points since the beginning of the season, a surprise loss against Reims. They also love playing Monaco where they had scored 14 goals in their last 3 league meetings. But on Sunday evening there would be similar stories and different ones.

Similar in the fact that the goals still came from PSG, add another 3, to the increasing tally they have converted against Monaco. When PSG score 3 goals at home you don’t even think at that point that the away team got anything from the game. Wrong. Monaco scored 3 too in a game that ended 3-3. It has already been voted in France as the game of the season so far, and it was nice to see what many people consider PSG’s real rivals, at least of the past decade go toe to toe with them and not just curl up and give up like they have the past two seasons.

A lot of credit has to be given to new Monaco coach Robert Moreno, the Spaniard admitted that he had set up his team to attack. Striker Wissam Ben Yedder scored one of their goals and the former Sevilla man has been in brilliant form. Neymar scored 2 of PSG’s goals and he is turning out to be having quite a successful season despite his off the field problems at the beginning of the season and the fact he has missed two periods out with injuries.

The result left PSG with 46 points, five ahead of Marseille but PSG have a game in hand. That match is being played tomorrow against ironically Monaco at Stade Louis II.

Marseille will be looking for their first title in a decade and it would be a special one to usurp PSG. But L’OM did record a vital victory over the weekend beating 3rd placed Rennes, who could have reeled them in. Instead Marseille have gone 8 points clear of them through the only goal of the game scored by Kevin Strootman.

Nantes beat Saint Etienne 2-0 as they continue to fall but Nantes have bounced back from defeat in their last game before this one to record 3 wins from their past five games, a Europa League place looks on for the club.

Lille have lost two games in a row after an away defeat against Dijon. Lille’s away form is very poor and it is only their home results that mean that they are 5th in the league. Gaeten Laborde scored again for Montpellier as they beat Amiens 2-1, and the striker is in great form having scored 3 goals in his past two games and helped his side climb up to 6th place.

Lyon like Montpellier may just have found form at the right time in what has been a troubled season for them. They overcame Bordeaux 2-1 with goals from Maxwell Cornet and Moussa Dembele and have gone their last two games unbeaten. And despite Monaco’s heroics they actually dropped a place to 8th, but form is very good for the club who have collected 20 points from their last 30, only goal difference separates them from 9th place Angers though.

The league is tight and there is still plenty to play for, the surprise is that the title is not PSG’s yet and that can only be good for French football.

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Should Manchester United be targeting Moussa Dembele?

The January transfer window might still be a few months away, but decisions behind the scenes are now being made and lists with potential targets being drawn up.

Manchester United know, given their results, they have to recruit in the winter market, even if it is not a preferred course of action. There is a reason as to why few clubs operate in January, and it is primarily due to the hike in already inflated transfer fees.

However, the Red Devils, currently sitting in 12th place, having scored less goals than Wolves, Aston Villa and Norwich, are having monumental problems at the top of the pitch and simply have to address it halfway through the season.

After moving Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez on in the summer, and then failing to replace them, there is little wonder as to why they are in the position they are in now. Mason Greenwood might have had more opportunities to play, but he is still only 17-years-old, and is not in a position to have authority in matches.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are the two registered centre forwards, although there is a strong case to suggest that the England international is better suited on the wing. Unlike the Frenchman, Rashford does not possess the killer instincts and composure in front of goal when tasked with a one-on-one situation.

As seasons progress, injuries occur, which is exactly what has hampered Martial and caused him to remain on the sidelines. And so Rashford is then left with the pressure to be the out-and-out goalscorer – something he does not look comfortable with at all.

One striker on the continent that has been linked with Manchester United time and time again is Olympique Lyon’s Moussa Dembele.

The Frenchman has an impressive record already this season, having scored six Ligue 1 goals in only eight appearances so far this campaign. In 2018/19, Dembele mustered up 23 goals and six assists in 52 appearances – a highly impressive tally after making the move from Celtic to Lyon.

Dembele is not the tallest of strikers, standing at 1.83m, but he does know where the space is inside the box and comes alive in close quarters. The Frenchman’s movement and precision is near enough perfection, pulling away from defenders and anticipating where the ball either might fall, or where the intended cross will end up to be on the end of it.

Lyon are usually hard negotiators and do not let their players leave easily. As seen last summer, Tanguy Ndombele finally made his move, which Tottenham had to pay over £50 million for.

Jean-Michel Aulas, the club’s President, is a famed negotiator, which does not bode well given the time restraints in January, as well as the ineptitude of the club’s negotiators behind the scenes.

Dembele is not the type of player to carry an exorbitant ego into the dressing room at Old Trafford, given he is not at the highest echelon of world football yet, but he has the potential to get there should he carry on working hard and delivering performances.

It is clear Manchester United are trying to move away from the prima-donnas of the world in Sanchez and Angel Di Maria, and instead focussing on players who can buy into the club’s philosophy and mentality.

A very well-rounded centre forward who has a history of consistency is what the Red Devils and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer need, and so bringing Dembele in during the January transfer window might just be the catalyst in scoring the department.

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Lyon in crisis as they sack Sylvinho after just 141 days in charge

Lyon have sacked coach Sylvinho after just 141 days in charge as the club have made their worst start to a Ligue 1 season in 23 years.

The news of Sylvinho’s sacking was a shock given that he had just taken the job in the summer but Lyon have been very poor by their standards in the league. The problem for the ex-Arsenal player was that he did not have a resume to back up that everything will work out well, this was his first proper managerial job- and to be fair it showed.

Tactics went out of the window and chaos ensued as he directed the defenders not to cross the halfway line and then wouldn’t let star players such as Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele play together.

Pre-season results were also poor barring an away win against Arsenal. Although Lyon looked to be PSG’s strongest challengers at the beginning of the season as they opened up the campaign with 2 wins, scoring 9 goals and conceding none, that has dramatically changed since then.

Lyon have won just 2 games all season and at the time of Sylvinho’s sacking the club are in 14th place with 9 points a huge 12 points behind PSG. But has the club jumped the gun and not thought through this properly?

In truth given time Sylvinho may well have found the right system and there has been encouraging moments but keeping him would mean giving up European football for next season and seeing the club possibly finish out of the top 10, that would be too much for a proud team like Lyon. It does seem early to pull the trigger but a wider thought would have been taken on, and this could be the right decision. For Sylvinho this will come as a big blow, but at the end of the day Lyon could well be to blame. Is it correct to appoint a manager with no first tier experience in the game? That is why sporting director Juninho could be next to go.

The next question turns to who will replace Sylvinho? Laurent Blanc has been made the favourite and that could be a good solid choice. Arsene Wenger’s name has appeared once again, but the former Arsenal great looks unlikely to coach again, although he has admitted that he misses the game. Another name being linked is Jose Mourinho, with the money the club have maybe he would be tempted, but in the past he has dismissed coaching in Ligue 1.

We should know the outcome in the next 10 days or so as Lyon try and save their season.

 

 

Brilliant Lyon emerge as the team to stop PSG in Ligue 1

Well what a start to the Ligue 1 season it has been for Lyon, who have won their opening two games of the season. But what has caught the attention is the way they are winning their games.

On the opening day of the season they made light work of Monaco playing them away from home they ran out 3-0 winners. Then yesterday they played their first game at home and sent their supporters to their homes happy beating Angers 6-0. It means that Lyon have secured first position and have scored 9 goals from two games and have yet to concede. Could there be any better start to a season?

What has made this one special is that the club have had so much change during the summer. First long time coach Bruno Genesio  left his position and was replaced by Sylvinho taking in his first managerial job. Arsenal fans will remember Sylvinho fondly with his time spent at the club in the 2000s.

Quality players have been sold on such as Tanguy Ndombele who went to Tottenham and Nebil Fekir who was sold to Real Betis, this has raised nearly 100m euros for the club. But Lyon haven’t just sat around and it was inevitable that they were going to buy players. In came Jeff Reine-Adelaide from Angers for 22m euros, Joachim Andersen from Serie A outfit Sampdoria for 21m euros and Thiago Mendes from Lille who had performed so well last season for 19.8m euros. And so from the sale of Tanguy Ndombele Lyon were able to bring in 3 fresh and quality players. Right now it is paying dividends.

Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele scored two goals apiece and it just shows that there are goals all over the pitch for this Lyon side. The real surprise has been the impact that Sylvinho has had on the team especially with his lack of management experience. This season was always going to be a turning point of sorts for the club, but it seems for now to be turning in the right direction.

With PSG’s shock loss, Lyon are top of the table though we shouldn’t get too carried away after just two games it is the clubs application, confidence and goals which has lit up the league in its earliest of stages.

In the next month Lyon will face some tough competition having to play the likes of Montpellier and PSG, and by the end of September we will have a clearer picture if Lyon will be a genuine threat to PSG’s dominance over Ligue 1. For now they certainly are.

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Top Ligue 1 Strikers in 2018/19: Moussa Dembele

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Moussa Dembele came 6th in the Ligue 1 rankings as the best striker and he finished the season earning 65 points finishing just 1 point behind Andy Delort. The Lyon striker who helped his side to a 3rd place finish thus providing them with a chance to play in next seasons Champions League scored 15 goals and also assisted in a further 4, making him have quite a successful personal season.

Dembele is just 22 and it is interesting to see how his career has developed because even though he was born in France the wealth of his experience as a footballer is in the United Kingdom. That is because Premier League side Fulham bought him from the youth team of PSG when he was just 16. After spending three seasons with the club where he only scored 15 times he was sold to Scottish club Celtic where he fared quite better scoring 26 goals and winning six trophies with the Bhoys.

Lyon finally came in for him in 2018 and the chance to move back to France was simply too great and it would be to one of the best clubs. At Lyon in his debut season he has had a very good one, 15 goals is a fantastic return when we consider this is from just 21 starts. He did play a total of 33 games for the club last season but 12 of those started from the bench.

Dembele did not score in his first two games of the season and it wasn’t until his 3rd match that he chalked up the points although it was worth waiting for as he scored two goals in Lyon’s 3-0 win over Dijon earning him 8 points in the process. This would equal his best single match points tally which he repeated a further two times when Lyon beat Toulouse 5-1 and when they drew against Strasbourg 2-2.

His best form of the season was at the end of September and lasted for a month, scoring points in 4 consecutive games. He earned 16 points in that period.

The worst moments for Dembele came in February as he couldn’t find the net in 3 games in a row. Dembele ended the season consistently being able to earn an average of 4 points but in his last game of the season away to Nimes, which Lyon won 3-2 he wasn’t able to score a goal and didn’t earn any points.

This past season was Dembele’s best as a player and he looks frighteningly good when we consider his age. His value is 5m and that looks set to rise at the beginning of the upcoming season as he really fits into his role at Lyon.

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Why aren’t Liverpool interested in Moussa Dembele?

When the eulogies are written of Liverpool’s 2018/19 season, of their glorious failure in the Premier League title race and their glorious triumph in the Champions League, there will be an anomalous name that crops up more than once. Indeed, Divock Origi, a forgotten man until the final few weeks of the campaign, wove himself into the club’s folklore with a series of crucial goals and moments.

Origi took his opportunity well, proving himself as a valuable member of Jurgen Klopp’s squad, but his presence in the Liverpool side at such a pivotal point of the season illustrated how the Reds don’t possess the depth of some of their rivals, particularly Manchester City and their myriad of attacking options.

Jurgen Klopp

This has led to speculation that Liverpool could sign a striker this summer. They have space for one, particularly with Daniel Sturridge leaving the club at the end of the season. Timo Wener has been linked with the RB Leipzig frontman a long term target for the Anfield club. The Bundesliga has been a good hunting ground for Liverpool in recent years and that trend could continue with a move for one of the division’s most reliable goalscorers.

What about Moussa Dembele, though? He is the French Under-21 international who is lighting up the U21 European Championships on the back of an impressive first season with Lyon. Indeed, Dembele has been so impressive since making the move to France from Celtic last summer that he has been mentioned as a £40 million target for Manchester United, who are also on the lookout for a new striker.

Of course, Liverpool aren’t looking for a first team frontman. They already boast arguably the best frontline in European football with Roberto Firmino a custom-built number nine for Klopp’s side. But if the Reds want a more orthodox centre forward, Dembele would certainly fit the bill. They should be interested.

Dembele proved himself at Champions League level while at Celtic, also underlining his big game capacity. Indeed, it’s when the pressure is on most that the Frenchman tends to find his best form, as we have seen for France at the U21 Euros this summer. Dembele is a natural goal-getter.

Klopp would be charged with refining certain areas of Dembele’s game. His first touch can let him down on occasion, for instance, but at £40 million – the mooted price set by Lyon – he might be the best option for the Reds. If the French striker is to make a move to the North-West of England this summer, he should have more than one option.

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Ligue 1: Player of the Week: Angel Di Maria

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There were several players that performed well this past weekend in Ligue 1 including Marquinhos for PSG, Moussa Dembele for Lyon and Ludovic Ajorque for Strasbourg. But our pick goes to Angel Di Maria for league leaders PSG who put in a terrific display ahead of what has been a difficult couple of weeks for the Paris club following their Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester United.

Di Maria picked up the joint most points for the week with 8 after his performance against Dijon which saw the champions increase their lead at the top to 17 points over 2nd placed Lille.

So how did Di Maria pick up his points for the week? It was a match that PSG ended up winning 4-0 away from home against relegation threatened Dijon and it only took 7 minutes for PSG to take the lead. It was Di Maria’s perfect cross which set up Marquinhos to open the scoring for the away side.

Soon after Kylian Mbappe arguably the best centre forward in Europe right now doubled the lead for the club, so PSG had gone in at 2-0 for half time. The 3rd goal followed five minutes into the second period and it was a goal to finish the game off and secure the win for PSG and it came from Di Maria. The Argentinian had now scored a goal and set one up for an all round fantastic display.

Overall this season Di Maria has scored 7 goals and assisted 9 times which is the best assist record in Ligue 1 this season. He’s currently in 5th position in Fantasy Ligue 1 standings, with all positions considered which is a remarkable statistic and he is 40 points behind his team mate in 1st place Kylian Mbappe who has of course picked up most of his points through virtue of being the league’s top goal scorer.

As midfielders go Di Maria sits in 2nd place and is 7 points behind Marseille’s Florian Thauvin. Whilst Thauvin has scored 6 more goals than Di Maria this season he has assisted in three less goals than him.

Apart from the goals and natural skill of Di Maria, the Argentina international has really curbed his temper and it has stood out and served PSG well. For example since the beginning of the season Di Maria has been booked just once, which is another remarkable statistic. It has meant that he hasn’t had to miss a run of games through disciplinary problems and has always been available for the club unless of an injury.

In the Ligue 1 Fantasy standings his showing over the week has risen by 2.19% and he can be brought into your team for 9m. This looks like a good deal given how many points he can pick up with assists and given the fact that he rarely drops points with a near clean record of yellow cards. You can add Di Maria to your team by going to the link below. Get playing!

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Ligue 1- 11 Player Picks for the Weekend

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Ligue 1 is back at the weekend although instead of the usual 10 fixtures there will only be 9 with Nantes and PSG’s game being postponed for the following week. Below we will look at players that you should look into and add for your fantasy Ligue 1 team.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Mike Maignan- 5m

Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan has been solid throughout the season but is experiencing arguably his best form, the shot stopper has conceded just 1 goal in the club’s past five matches as they look to hold onto 2nd place in Ligue 1.

Defender: Malang Sarr- 5.5m

Sarr has been one of the outstanding players to come out of Ligue 1 this season. The Nice defender picked up 5pts last weekend and is in the top 4 as his club have got back to winning ways.

Defender: Jose Fonte -7.5m

Fonte has been part of the Lille side to concede just 1 goal in their past five games that goes back to the beginning of February, he has been instrumental and with his value under 8m is a real steal.

Defender: Hiroki Sakai- 7.5m

Sakai has been part of a Marseille defence that has grown stronger since the turn of the year and part of a back four that has conceded just 2 goals in their last five games. He currently has 33pts and if form continues could break into the top 10 standings in Ligue 1 fantasy for defenders.

Defender: Dante Costa- 6.5m

Solid at the back for Nice in the teams last game, the club needed a win and will hope to improve on that this weekend. Plus he picked up a massive 5pts last weekend and the confidence seems to have returned for the player.

Midfielder: Florian Thauvin- 11m

Probably the best out and out midfielder this season in France, he is also experiencing great form as his club Marseille have bounced back into contention, and he picked up 8pts last time out.

Midfielder: Bertrand Traore-8.5m

The Lyon midfielder has put in a shift this season with his great passing abilities and he has scored 7 times, his 8.5m looks like a snip and last weekend he picked up 5pts as Lyon try to chase down Lille for 2nd place.

Midfielder: Flavien Tait-7.5m

Angers have no problems to stay up this season and much of that is down to Tait who is in great form and picked up 8pts over the week. He continues to be a threat for opposing players and has made an incredible 6 assists so far this season.

Midfielder: Nabil Fekir- 10m

One of the best players in Ligue 1 last season is continuing that in this one and he has been instrumental for Marseille’s return of form in the last few months. He is in form and usually takes the penalties for the club, so could gain you more points this weekend.

Striker: Moussa Dembele- 5m

An absolute steal this season for 5m, Dembele has been very solid as a forward for Lyon and scored a brace last time out. He is on form and has scored 9 goals over the past few months and could well get on the score sheet again this weekend.

Striker: Radamel Falcao- 7.5m

There have been some injuries and a lack of form mostly for his club Monaco. But since Leonardo Jardim came back to the coaching job there has been a fire ignited in Falcao once again and he is back on form. Last week he earned 7pts and has scored 11 goals this season despite Monaco’s troubled campaign.

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Tottenham need more than Kane to beat Barcelona

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Injuries to key players in Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side couldn’t have come at a worse time for the north Londoners.

If losing Dele Alli wasn’t bad enough, to hear that Christian Eriksen, Serge Aurier, Jan Verthongen and Moussa Dembele were out too would likely have sent even the most optimistic Spurs fan into meltdown.

Hugo Lloris returns in goal in one bit of good news for ‘Poch,’ who will be heavily reliant on the talismanic Harry Kane doing the business. Continue reading

Moussa Dembele – One of Europe’s Hottest Properties

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A few eyebrows were raised when Moussa Demebele chose to sign for Glasgow Celtic in the summer. He was apparently due to sign for Tottenham Hotspur last season, however, that move broke down and the young French striker chose to stay at Fulham and let his contract run down.

Celtic had to pay a development fee, rumoured to be around £500,000, to Fulham to secure his services. However the top sides in England have noted his progress and none other than Zinedine Zidane, current Real Madrid manager has been following his career closely and recently compared him to Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.

After a sticky start to the season, he was given his chance in the first team when Leigh Griffiths suffered an injury. He made the position his won and was one of the few who came through an indifferent Champions League campaign with pass marks. Since his penalty miss against Barcelona in the Nou Camp, where Barcelona and Lionel Messi ran riot, he has gone from strength to strength and his double against Inverness during the week took him to an incredible 31 goals this season. When asked about this by an interviewer handing him yet another man of the match award, he simply replied ‘it’s my job’.

He managed 3 Champions League goals in 6 matches and it was his brace against Manchester City in a thrilling 3-3 draw where Raheem Sterling scored for both sides, really brought him to an audience outside Scotland. He followed that up with a cooly taken penalty against Borussia Monchengladbach as Celtic bowed out finishing bottom of their group.

As Celtic turned their focus towards the Scottish Premier League, where they are breaking all sorts of records, the 20-year-old Frenchman settled down and started banging in the goals. A hat-trick against Rangers as Celtic ran out 5-1 winners, endeared him to the Celtic fans and he has repaid their support many times over. He has scored 3 hat-tricks this season and his recent strike rate of 11 goals in his last 5 matches is nothing short of phenomenal and with his goals ratio, 50 goals this season is looking like more than just a possibility.

Will he stay at Celtic for another crack at the Champions League or will he move on to pastures new? He recently stated that he is loving life at Celtic and as a striker who loves playing and scoring goals, it may be a while yet before he tries something new.

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