MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the Week 5 Ligue 1 coupon to share his best French fancies.
Montpellier v St Etienne | Saturday 19.00 | BT Sport Extra
Montpellier managed to get their first point of the season before the international break but La Paillade are still looking for their first goal with head coach Rolland Courbis now really feeling the heat in the hot-seat. The home side enjoyed the majority of possession in that goalless draw at newly-promoted Angers and had the lion’s share of opportunities but still keep up short.
The fortnight that’s passed since that clash has seen Montpellier’s season take another turn for the worse. On transfer deadline day the hosts sold left-winger Anthony Mounier to Bologna and with Morgan Sanson still sidelined, MHSC will be without two of their best players from last season for their date with St Etienne on Saturday.
In the last nine games that La Paillade have started when one or both Mounier or Sanson has been missing, they’ve managed a measly three goals. Taking Mounier’s contribution on his own – Montpellier have won just twice in 19 matches the wideman has been absent from with their goals-per-game average falling from 1.23 to just 0.84.
Over the past two seasons the home side have returned rubbish W4-D4-L11 figures when taking on top-half finishers with Saturday’s visitors St Etienne holding the Indian sign over MHSC in Ligue 1 action too – Les Verts have bagged victories in 20 of their 34 top tier meetings. Despite a number of injury concerns, I like Saints’ chances at 11/10 (Betway) in the Draw No Bet market.
Romain Hamouma, Fabien Lemoine, Kévin Théophile-Catherine and Benoît Assou-Ekotto are all either major doubts or confirmed out but even so, the travellers have squad strong enough to cope. Christophe Galtier’s men were booed off in their 2-1 win over nine-man Bastia last time out but they’ve secured three consecutive wins in all competitions and are always a tough nut to crack.
Les Verts have W10-D5-L2 in their most recent 17 league outings, scoring in all bar one, and I can’t see them losing this fixture. Montpellier have lost three on the spin at the Stade de la Mosson – their worst run of results at home since their comeback into the top-flight in 2009/10 and St Etienne certainly won’t make things easy.
Nice v Guingamp | Saturday 19.00
Eat, sleep, back Both Teams To Score in Nice games, repeat. Eat, sleep, back Both Teams To Score in Nice games, repeat. Eat, sleep, back Both Teams To Score in Nice games, repeat. Eat, sleep, back Both Teams To Score in Nice games, repeat.
Yeah, sorry guys. This is all becoming a little repetitive but hey, if the bookies want to keep pricing up BTTS in Nice matches at bulbous prices, we’re going to have to get involved. I really could just do a copy/paste job on the claims for this bet but rather than bore you by regurgitating the same old lines, I’ll give you the hard facts.
Including the back end of last season, Nice have scored in 15 of their last 16 Ligue 1 matches. They’ve failed to keep a clean sheet in 10 and managed just six shutouts since September 2014. Defensive injuries continue to disrupt Claude Puel’s charges and although Maxime Le Marchand and Mathieu Bodmer are back in training, Gautier Lloris, Niklas Hult, Simon Pouplin, Mahamane Traoré and Romain Genevois are still on the sidelines for Les Aiglons.
Interestingly, centre-half Genevois has missed 10 matches since the start of last season and Nice are yet to keep a clean sheet – six of the last seven of those matches have even produced three goals or more. The Over 2.5 Goals line has actually been beaten in six of their last seven at the Allianz Riviera whilst 14/21 (67%) at the same venue have featured Both Teams To Score winners.
In attack, summer capture Hatem Ben Arfa has sparkled alongside Valere Germain and Alassane Plea in a dangerous front three. Puel will send his side out to play on the front foot, knowing his patched up defence is unlikely to impress and that should lead us to another BTTS bet at 11/10 with 888.
Guingamp may have failed to net in five of their previous seven road trips but their morale-boosting and quite impressive performance in putting Marseille away 2-0 before the break should boost Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men. Sloan Privat and Jimmy Briand were a threat in EAG’s new-look attack and I reckon they’re well capable of playing their part in this Both Teams To Score bet.
GFC Ajaccio v Monaco | Sunday 13.00 | BT Sport Extra
Poor GFC Ajaccio. They’re the first team to be goalless after their first four games in Ligue 1. It’s not been for the want of trying, mind. Tiny Gazalec, the smallest side to ever appear in France’s top-flight, gave Lille a real run for their money before the international break but found Vincent Enyeama in unmoveable form between the sticks.
It means the minnows have now lost three on the spin and been trailing at the interval in all three. Thierry Laurey’s troopers have conceded all of their five goals inside the opening half hour of matches with basic defensive blunders to blame, for the most part.
Sadly, I just can’t see Gazalec competing successfully alongside Ligue 1’s big guns, such as Sunday’s visitors Monaco. The principality club may have lost talented starlets Layvin Kurzawa and Anthony Martial in the final few days of the transfer window, and will also be without Helder Costa, Joao Moutinho, Fabio Coentrao and Jérémy Toulalan for this match-up, should still have enough quality in the ranks to justify their even-money quotes from Marathon.
Leonardo Jardim ‘s charges haven’t won since their opening match against Nice (W0-D2-L1) – their worst league run in 2015 – but Les Rouge et Blanc have returned W10-D6-L2 from their past 18 outings and have W10-D1-L2 in their most recent 13 road trips. Indeed, Monaco have actually won more away league games (24) than home Ligue 1 matches (20) since 2013/14 so winning on their travels in Ajaccio shouldn’t be an issue.
Bernardo Silva’s started the season in sparkling form and has played his part in five of their last 10 away goals in league football. Expect the diminutive attacker to play a leading role with Monaco extending their 100% record away to promoted clubs from their last five duels. Monaco to win at evens is the bet.
Montpellier v St Etienne – St Etienne draw no bet (11/10 Betway)
Nice v Guingamp – Both Teams To Score (11/10 888)
GFC Ajaccio v Monaco – Monaco to win (1/1 Marathon)
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