MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) European NAP has given us plenty of joy this season. His latest arrives from France.
Monaco v Lorient | Sunday 14:00 | BT Sport
Monaco went back to the top of the Ligue 1 table for the first time since mid-September as they romped to a 4-1 win at Marseille last weekend.
Bernardo Silva netted twice after Thomas Lemar and Radamel Falcao had earlier scored at the Stade Velodrome with the result propelling the principality club above previous table-toppers Nice on goal difference.
Leonardo Jardim’s squad have now lost only one of their last 11 league games and have only been beaten once in 18 home outings in all competitions this season, while their statistics in front of goal continue to be mind-blowing.
The win over Marseille was the eighth time in 20 league matches this season in which Monaco have scored at least four goals, a quite remarkable record. They have scored 60 goals altogether, an average of 3.00 per-game and 21 more than PSG’s tally.
You’ll struggle to find a more watchable midfield four than Lemar, Silva, Fabinho and Tiemoue Bakayoko across the continent and Les Rouges et Blancs’ wonderful front-foot football should lead us towards another goal-heavy game and comfortable home win against Lorient.
Monaco have accumulated a +24 goal difference at the Stade Louis II this season, returning W8-D1-L1 in Ligue 1 action. On five occasions they’ve notched four or more goals and six of those successes were by at least a two-goal margin.
Jardim’s men boast a W9-D1-L0 record against the bottom-half, scoring 37 goals in that sample with six triumphs arriving by more than solitary goals. So the hosts should be capable of putting Lorient to the sword.
The visitors picked up a huge 3-1 win against Guingamp last weekend but remain entrenched in a relegation battle and two points from safety.
Bernard Casoni replaced Sylvain Ripoll in early November and although results and performances have improved marginally (W3-D2-L3), all three wins were achieved on home soil and that eight-match run includes a 5-0 shellacking at PSG and 3-0 home reverse to Sunday’s hosts Monaco.
Les Merlus have leaked 19 goals in Casoni’s eight games and head into this encounter without star striker and top scorer Benjamin Moukanjo’s, as well as centre-back Zargo Toure, both of whom are at the African Cup of Nations.
New signing Mathieu Peybernes made his debut at the back during last weekend’s victory but I’m not expecting a similar result this time around.
Lorient have picked up just two points from a possible 30 on their travels this term – both at bottom-four teams – and have suffered 23/34 (68%) defeats at top-six clubs since 2011 – 13 (38%) of which were by two or more goals.
The betting angle
So we have two options – support Monaco -1.5 on the Asian Handicap (28/29 188BET) line as outlined in my Two Mark’s video, or attack Monaco to win and Over 2.5 Goals at 4/5 (BetStars). Seeing as we’ve covered the former elsewhere, I’ll plump for the later.
We’ve covered Monaco’s credentials already but it’s also worth pointing out that Over 2.5 Goals has landed in 17 of the hosts’ 20 Ligue 1 matches this season, plus each of Lorient’s past 10 – six of which surpassed Over 3.5 Goals.
Monaco v Lorient – Monaco to win and Over 2.5 Goals (4/5 BetStars)