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Ligue 1 Monthly Review: October

Mohammed Ali rounds up all of October’s Ligue 1 action in 2 minutes:

The Ligue 1 juggernaut continued into a third month, as French sides with title or survival aspirations began to get a clearer view of just how their assembled squads could cope with the rough and tumble of le Championnat. And in October, there were more than a few surprises.

Only two sides managed a 100% win record in October – with the most recent game week (at the time of writing) falling in November. Indeed, both LOSC Lille Metropole and EA Guingamp have managed great strides, with the newly promoted side briefly entering the top five by Halloween – a scary prospect in itself, with all three new entrants occupying the top half, of the top half. Lille, under the guidance of Rene Girard have totally recovered from their brief blip in September to really assert themselves. It is they, and not Olympique de Marseille, who have positioned themselves as the early challenger to the nouveau riche AS Monaco, and their financial heavyweight counterparts PSG.

Much of Lille’s success can be put down to a renewed confidence, and a few tactical tweaks here or there. It’s much the same squad that faltered last year, though Vincent Enyeama’s outstanding ability, and Simon Kjaer’s defensive competence has enabled LOSC to shut out all but two teams in 12 games. Conceding just 4, and none in October. One of the best sides in Europe, in that respect.

Overachieving sides in October also include Nantes, who continue to astound, and occupy 4th spot. Just six behind Paris Saint-Germain (at the end of the month). The Canaries only suffered one defeat – to Lille – and have proven themselves capable of besting the mid-table sides in Ligue 1 with an efficient brand of football centred on Filip Djordjevic – himself gaining attraction from across Europe.

Champions PSG continue to breeze past any that come before them. Not only in the league, but also the Champions League, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and co., blasting apart most notably Anderlecht and Bastia – their sole blip coming against Saint-Etienne. Laurent Blanc’s however, have developed a champion’s mentality, coming back against ASSE from 2-0 down to hold their unbeaten record.

Across the country and down in Monaco, the shine appears to have come off Claudio Ranieri’s powerful side. Though they won two and drew one of their last three, Monaco are playing somewhat lethargically, and a tad complacent. Sochaux, under new boss Herve Renard – appointed in October – hit back to draw, while Stade de Reims picked up a fantastic victory in the Coupe de la Ligue.

But the main news of October continues to be the stark descent of French giants Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique de Marseille.

Marseille suffered five defeats out of five in October, with calls from fans – including myself – for Elie Baup to be sacked after another dispirited and unimaginative set of performances that have left OM well off the pace in Ligue 1, and almost out of the Champions League. Shocking defeats to a David-Ospina inspired Nice, and a superb comeback win for Reims at the Velodrome hasn’t helped OM justify the €35million spent over the summer. With further tests to come in November, against Arsenal, Napoli, Lyon and Montpellier, OM need to come together and fast.

Over in the Rhone, Lyon’s continuing injury struggles have impacted upon the side, with no wins either this month, apart from a Europa League victory over Rijeka. But Remi Garde’s men are beginning to find their feet – but memories are still fresh from their huge 5-1 defeat to Montpellier in the early weeks of the month. That said, expectations are pretty low for Jean Michel Aulas and his former champions.

At the time of writing in early November, the Ligue 1 table already has lived up to its competitive billing, with PSG, Lille and Monaco separated by three points. Nantes in 4th (20), Marseille 5th (18) and Toulouse in 15th (15) are separated by just five points. With Lorient, Valenciennes, Ajaccio and Sochaux themselves separated by three at the bottom.

November remains an important month for all.

Best Team of the Month: Lille
Worst Team of the Month: Marseille
Best Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Worst Player: Rod Fanni
Best Team Performance: Rennes 5-0 Toulouse
Top Scorer: Edinson Cavani

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