We take you through a quick preview of what to expect in this weekend’s round of Ligue 1 fixtures:
Friday: PSG (1st) vs SC Bastia (13th) (19.30 GMT)
The league leaders entertain Hantz’s Corsicans tomorrow at the Parc des Princes, where the mood is currently good. The month of January brought the readily-awaited arrival of Lucas Moura and the Qatari owners had a surprise in store when they announced the signing of David Beckham on transfer deadline day, exactly a week ago now. They are not only enjoying success off the pitch either. PSG have won 4 Ligue 1 games on the trot and are expected to add another to this total tomorrow. Thiago Silva is out due to injury and Mamadou Sakho is set to be rested.
Bastia had a busy transfer window, but one new face we will not be seeing is that of Samuel Inkoom, who has not been registered in time for tomorrow’s game. In my eyes, one of the best tacticians in the league in Hantz has enabled Bastia to over-perform this season.
- PSG have not lost a competitive fixture since the 1st December.
- PSG have conceded just once in 2013.
- This season, when PSG have scored 1st at home they have always won.
- Bastia have won just once in 2013.
- Bastia have won just twice away from home all season.
- PSG and Bastia have picked up the most cards out of any Ligue 1 side this season.
Saturday: Saint-Etienne (6th) vs Montpellier (8th) (1600 GMT)
St-Etienne have had a wonderful couple of weeks, picking up their Ligue 1 form again and making it to the Coupe de la Ligue final. Performances from Lemoine and keeper Ruffier have arguably been the key to success, while Aubameyang continues to frustrate only showing glimpses of his true ability. Girard seems to have steadied the ship at MHSC with impressive performances seeing them work their way back up the Ligue 1 table. Herrera and Utaka are starting to repay the faith placed in them.
- The last time Montpellier beat St-Etienne away from home was in 1995.
- Whenever St-Etienne have scored 1st at home this season, they have not lost.
- St-Etienne are unbeaten in their last 7.
- Montpellier have not won away from home in Ligue 1 since 12th December.
Saturday: Ajaccio (14th) vs Bordeaux (4th) (1900 GMT)
New signings for Mathieu Chalme and Dennis Oliech for Ajaccio have revitalised their relegation battle as Emon seems to have generally improved the Corsican side. Meanwhile, Gillot’s draw specialists are in brilliant form in Ligue 1, and are starting to win games once again. Girondins’ fans will be excited to see what new young Striker Diego Rolan can achieve after the sale of Yoan Gouffran to Newcastle.
- Bordeaux have won every away game in 2013.
- Whenever Bordeaux have scored 1st away from home in Ligue 1 this season they have won the match.
- However, whenever Bordeaux concede 1st away from home in Ligue 1 this season, they have not won the match.
- The last 2 times Bordeaux have visited Ajaccio they have won.
- Ajaccio are unbeaten in 4.
Saturday: AS Nancy (19th) vs Stade de Reims (18th) (1900 GMT)
This match is the definition of a relegation six pointer. Nancy’s Patrick Gabriel has completely transformed ASNL who last week lifted themselves of the bottom of the table and are on their best winning streak of the season in all competitions (3 wins). Reims are slowly slipping down the table as their form has gradually gotten worse since the turn of the new year. The lack of a proven centre-forward is their main worry at this moment in time, although young recruit Nicolas De Preville should sort that out.
- Nancy have lost just twice since the 9th November.
- Reims have never won at Nancy in the league.
- Nancy have not won at home when they have conceded 1st this season.
- Reims have yet to win away from home this season.
Saturday: OGC Nice (5th) vs FC Lorient (9th) (1900 GMT)
OGC Nice’s fairytale continues under Claude Puel, currently taking up one of the Europa League spots in the most unlikely of success stories this season. They play host to Christian Gourcuff’s Lorient who’s ambitions of obtaining European qualification have seen better days. Nice received a big blow last weekend when it emerged that Dario Cvitanich, their talisman so far this season, is likely to be out for at least 2 weeks through injury.
- Nice have not lost at home this season when they score the 1st goal.
- If the Ligue 1 table was made up of 2nd half scores only, Nice would be 3rd.
- Lorient have only ever recorded one win at Nice in all competitions.
Saturday: ESTAC Troyes (20th) vs Sochaux (17th) (1900 GMT)
Both sides’ form has picked up very recently which will make this relegation battle even more intriguing. ESTAC did not do as much business in the January window as I’m sure they would’ve liked, and may well pay the price for this. Sochaux, barring 2 tricky fixtures against Montpellier and ASSE have made a brilliant start to the new year including an outstanding victory over Marseille earlier last month. The re-found form of Loic Poujol has played a major role in Sochaux’s revival.
- Sochaux have yet to win an away game when they have conceded first this season.
- ESTAC have yet to win a home game this season when they have conceded first.
- ESTAC have conceded the 2nd most goals this season (44)
- If the Ligue 1 table was made up of only the results of every 1st half of each game, Sochaux would be bottom.
Saturday: Valenciennes (9th) vs Brest (15th) (1900 GMT)
VAFC’s form has turned sour in the past two months, and one can be sure that the departure of Foued Kadir, 1st to AFCON and the to Marseille has had a big impact on this. Brest meanwhile lost talismanic Striker Eden Ben Basat on transfer deadline day to Toulouse and rushed to replace him with Everton’s Magaye Gueye, who, Everton fans were apparently very happy to get rid of. Unless Gueye can fill the void that Ben Basat has left behind, Brest are likely to become embroiled in the battle to stay up, making the next few months uncomfortable for all those connected with the club.
- Brest have won just 2 away games all season.
- Valenciennes have yet to lose at home this season when they score the 1st goal.
- Brest have only ever won once at Valenciennes, in 1988.
- Valenciennes have not won a game in 5.