Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl) Thu 17 September 2009
Jeu du Jour Week 5: Déjà vu, Grenoble
You know what they say about title-challenging teams: if you can play badly and still win, you've got what it takes to be the champions. The question is, does the reverse apply for relegation-threatened teams?
Grenoble are challenging the theory at the moment, that's for sure. Having played five and lost five so far this season, they've played well more often than not and yet still won nothing for their efforts. Their latest opponents, champions Bordeaux, had a decidedly off day on Saturday as they aimed to maintain an unbeaten run that goes back over six months, but still beat the tenacious Grenoble who, some say, deserved at least a point from the game.
Yoan Goufrann's 18th-minute goal proved to be the sum total Bordeaux's efforts on the day, but despite Laurent Blanc's acknowledgement of a poor performance, it means Bordeaux stay top of the table and Grenoble remain bottom.
Joining Mehmed Baždarević's team at the wrong end of things are Saint Etienne who have won only one of their five games, and it was against... Grenoble. Predictable really, wasn't it? This week, they lost by a single goal away to Rennes who maintain their unbeaten start to the season, moving up to sixth in the table as they do so.
One place above them are PSG whose unbeaten run came to a crashing end against Monaco on Sunday. With five minutes remaining, the match looked to be heading for a goalless draw but up popped Chu-Young Park and Nenê to smash and grab all three points for the Principality. To make matters worse, PSG had Benin midfielder Stephane Sessegnon sent off in injury time as the team from the capital lost ground on Bordeaux at the top.
Marseille and Lyon continue their own hot pursuit of Bordeaux with a win each at the weekend. Marseille faced tough opposition in the form of a Le Mans side who gave as good as they got at the Stade Léon-Bollée. Mamadou Niang put L'OM in front early on, but Le Mans pushed hard for an equaliser with Anthony Le Tallec (yes, him again) going close on several occasions.
Eventually the home side got their goal through a lovely overhead kick from Modibo Maiga just after the hour mark, but their lead lasted only eight minutes courtesy of Marseille's Brazilian striker Brandão. He headed in unmarked from a free kick to ensure his side stay in the top four.
Another Brazilian making his mark was Michel Bastos who picked up his second goal of the season in Lyon's 1-0 win over Lorient. It came in the final third of a game that saw Lyon playing with an unfamiliar formation following the absence through injury of Lisandro Lopez. It took them a while to get going against a tame Lorient, but by the second half they had their opponents on the back foot and eventually got their goal through Lyon's summer signing from Lille 18 minutes from time.
Still the undoubted Wild Card in the pack is Montpellier who rise to third in the table following a scrappy 1-0 over the team that pipped them to the Ligue 2 title last season, Lens. Alberto Costa's 39th-minute penalty was the only difference between the two battling teams and proved enough to maintain Montpellier's unbeaten start to the season.
At the other end of the table, Nice slipped into the bottom three after handing their hosts, Auxerre, their first win of the season. A goal in either half saw Auxerre climb out of the relegation zone for the first time in this campaign – no doubt a psychological boost for the team that can claim never to have been relegated from the top flight.
Also picking up their first win (and about time too) were Lille after a 1-0 home win over Sochaux that lacked much for the connoisseur to enthuse over. At this rate, Sochaux look likely to finish in 14th spot for the third season running while Lille will now be hoping to return to the top end of the table they so often occupy.
Out tip for greatness in 2009/10, Toulouse, are finding it all a bit of a struggle this season. They endured their third game in a row without a win after a goalless draw away to Nancy, but it wasn't for the want of trying. Star player André-Pierre Gignac dominated the match with a raft of chances including two that hit the bar in the second half, but the luck just wasn't with Toulouse on the day.
The game ended spectacularly when Nancy midfielder Silva André Luiz was sent off for headbutting Etienne Didot, but it did nothing to alter the result. Both teams now occupy a middle-third spot now but are patently capable of improving that by the end of the season.
Finally, a mention for plucky Boulogne who refuse to be overawed in this, their first ever Ligue 1 showing. They extended their current unbeaten run to four after a 1-1 draw at home to Valenciennes who themselves seem to have turned a corner at last. Boulogne, rather admirably, occupy eight spot in the table now while Valenciennes climb up to 15th.
Boulogne's first big test of the season comes this weekend as they play host to Bordeaux while Montpellier travel to Marseille. At the bottom end, there's a six-pointeur between Auxerre and Saint Etienne to whet the appetite, so why not join us next week to see how those games and the seven others in Ligue 1 pan out.
Until next time, it's à bientôt! Results and tables here.