MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) managed a solid two from three in last week’s Ligue 1 and he’s set his sights on a handy four-fold for week four in France.
Guingamp v Marseille | Friday 19.30 | BT Sport/ESPN
Who’s Marcelo Bielsa? Marseille made the perfect start to life under new manager Michel by whipping newly-promoted Troyes 6-0 at the Stade Velodrome last Sunday. The result slightly flattered L’OM, who went into the break just one goal to the good and lucky not to concede at the other end. But Lassana Diarra’s wonder strike steadied the nerves and Les Phocéens didn’t look back.
Michy Batshuayi bagged a confidence-boosting brace after a difficult first two fixtures leading the line and Marseille now make the trip to Guingamp full of confidence. Despite their opening two defeats, L’OM had been creating lorryloads of goalscoring opportunities and look handy 11/10 (BetVictor) material for Friday night’s trip.
Under Bielsa, Marseille were ruthless when posed with the lesser Ligue 1 lights. When taking on teams in eighth and below, Les Phocéens W18-D4-L4 last season and that included rock solid W8-D3-L2 form away. They scored at least twice in 20 of those 26 outings and in eight of their 13 road trips.
Guingamp have endured a difficult start to the new campaign. Three defeats from three without a goal scored has understandably set alarm bells ringing in Brittany but in Jocelyn Gourvennec, the hosts have an excellent coach. However, EAG tend to be slow starters (W3-D2-L13 of their last 18 top-flight fixtures in August) and have been beaten in their last eight encounters with Marseille.
Lars Jacobsen and Nicolas Benezet are expected to return to the Guingamp ranks but the side will need a huge improvement from their 3-0 loss at Bastia last time out to stop a buoyant Marseille. The home side have competed reasonably well thus far but sloppy defending and an attack struggling to come to terms with the loss of last year’s top two goalscorers Claudio Beauvue and Christophe Mandanne hasn’t helped.
When playing sides that finished above them last season, Guingamp lost 13/18 and kept just two clean sheets. I’d be surprised if they were able to shut out Marseille and so an away victory looks the best port of call at the Stade du Roudourou.
Lille v GFC Ajaccio | Saturday 19.00 | BT Sport 1
We’re three rounds into the new Ligue 1 season and neither Lille nor GFC Ajaccio have troubled the scoresheet. They’re not alone though – the aforementioned Guingamp and Montpellier haven’t managed to make the net ripple either, meaning a fifth of the French top tier are still yet to score.
But Lille’s lack of goals shouldn’t deter us from investing in Les Dogues on Saturday night. The hosts are under new management with double African Cup of Nations winning coach Herve Renard now in the hot-seat. Despite losing the spine of their 2014/15 side, Lille have competed excellently in tough opening showdowns against PSG, Monaco and Bordeaux and done enough to warrant support.
Boylesports have offered even-money on Lille winning ‘to nil’ and that looks a decent price considering the strength (or lack of) in the Gazalec ranks. The hosts have W17-D6-L0 in their past 23 Ligue 1 outings against newly-promoted sides and the Corsicans could comfortably take the tag as smallest club to ever compete in France’s top tier.
Thierry Laurey’s troops were down and out early on against fellow promoted side Angers last weekend whilst a 2-0 defeat at PSG and opening day 0-0 draw with another fellow promoted club Troyes has flattered.
PSG’s Lucas Moura is the only player to score against Lille this season with Vincent Enyeama in fine form between the sticks and with the hosts keeping their sheets clean in 24/39 (61%) of Stade Pierre-Mauroy encounters since the start of 2013/14, the home win ‘to nil’ makes big appeal.
Angers v Nice | Saturday 19.00
I could easily just copy/paste the bulk of last week’s Ligue 1 tip regarding Nice. We backed Claude Puel’s men to be involved in a Both Teams To Score showdown against Caen and they didn’t let us down. It means Les Aiglons have now netted in 14 of their past 15 league outings but failed to keep a clean sheet in nine on the spin.
New signing Hatem Ben Arfa scored a wonder goal last time out and he’s enjoying being the main man of Nice’s dangerous front three. Valere Germain continues to impress but so too does Alassane Plea, who’s now been involved with four of Les Aiglons’ six goals this campaign.
Unfortunately for Puel, defensive injuries continue to disrupt the visitors. The likes of Romain Genevois, Niklas Hult, Mathieu Bodmer, Mahamane Traoré, Simon Pouplin and now Maxime Le Marchand are all sidelined whilst the club has yet to find a replacement for Jordan Amavi at left-back. The Nice boss will again be forced into fielding an experimental and inexperienced backline.
As well as a host of unavailable defenders, the visitors have kept just six clean sheets since September 2014, so Angers should be well capable of grabbing a goal. Stéphane Moulin’s men have been scoring relatively freely and although they’ve kept shutouts in all three encounters thus far (their best top-flight record since 1973), centre-half Ismaël Traoré is a major doubt for Saturday.
With Nice’s superb trends in our favour, you’d expect Both Teams To Score to be hovering around the odds-on mark but 10Bet are offering 6/5 and that’s more than good enough for me to pull the trigger.
Bordeaux v Nantes | Sunday 16.00 | BT Sport/ESPN
Bordeaux travelled a European distance record on Thursday night to take on Kazakh side Karat Almaty in their Europa League qualifier and Willy Sagnol’s squad are bound to be leggy, exhausted and underprepared for Sunday’s showdown with a determined Nantes.
Les Girondins are also without the services of several top performers including Lamine Sané, Grégory Sertic, Cheick Diabaté and Diego Contento. Cédric Carrasso and Jaroslav Plasil are hoping to return but Sagnol may wisely opt to give them an extra week to recover with the international break just around the corner.
Home advantage is also tempered as Bordeaux have only recently moved into their new Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux base and Reims came away with all three points on their opening day encounter. So as you can probably tell, I’m more than happy to oppose Les Girondins on Sunday afternoon with Coral’s 19/20 on Nantes in the Double Chance market standing out.
The Canaries have made a solid start W2-D1-L0 start but most impressive has been Michel Der Zakarian’s outstanding defensive record. The visitors are yet to concede a goal and the Franco-Armenian coach continues to work wonders at the eight-time Ligue 1 champions – last weekend’s 1-0 success at Reims restricted their opponents to just one effort on goal.
Sure, Nantes have failed to score more than one goal in their last 12 league fixtures and returned pretty poor W0-D4-L7 in 11 previous road trips but Emiliano Sala is back in contention and it should be only a matter of time before Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, Adryan and Adrien Thomasson start to click in the Canaries forwardline.
Nantes have W4-D2-L4 in their past 10 trips to Bordeaux and although there’ll be no away fans for the Derby de l'Atlantique battle, I do expect Der Zakarian’s charges to do a job on a weary Bordeaux side missing most of their big guns. The Double Chance bet will pay us out if Nantes avoid defeat.
Guingamp v Marseille – Marseille to win (11/10 BetVictor)
Lille v GFC Ajaccio – Lille win ‘to nil’ (1/1 Boylesports)
Angers v Nice – Both Teams To Score (6/5 10Bet)
Bordeaux v Nantes – Nantes double chance (19/20 Coral)
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