Monthly Archives: December 2012

News Update – 31/12/12

First of all could I just take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year. A huge thank you to anyone who has visited, linked, contributed, liked, followed, re-tweeted this site or the MarseilleUK twitter or Facebook accounts.

Ins and Outs –

As the rumour mill goes into overdrive around Europe, Marseille already seem to be sorting out their transfer business, keeping a low profile, and keeping costs low, despite recent proclamations that the clubs finances are sound.

3 players linked with moves into the club are Foued Kadir, Brice Samba and Denis Petric (although as the move for Samba has gained pace, a move for another goalkeeper, Petric, would seem to be unlikely). Although it had been reported earlier in the month that Ricardo Quaresma was on his way to Marseille, that move looks to have stalled over the Portuguese internationals’ wage demands.

Some possible moves away from OM are rumoured to be Nkoulou who has interested Manchester City, Florian Raspentino with a loan move Brest suggested, and the on going saga surrounding Loic Remy and the host of English clubs tracking him including Newcastle United and Stephane Mbia’s QPR.

The deal that looks imminent is that of Foued Kadir, for a mere €500,000. Kadir currently plays for Valenciennes and has played a major part in their surprising push up the ligue this season. The Algerian has contributed 6 goals and 4 assists from his 11 starts so far. He will provide good cover for Andre Ayew outside of the ACoN, and hopefully provide Amalfitano with some competition to up his game too.

Brice Samba is an 18 year old goalkeeper currently playing for Le Havre. This transfer would appear to show the club seeing Samba as a long-term replacement for Mandanda, allowing Samba an opportunity to learn and progress under him whilst also spelling the end for Bracigliano (who is rumoured to have interested Gazelec d’Ajaccio).

Marseille managed to keep hold of Nkoulou last summer, and despite some shaky performances of late, there is no doubt that Nkoulou is the most consistent defender OM possess. As is the case for most teams nowadays though, if enough money is offered the club are likely to ‘reluctantly’ accept a substantial offer. Hopes are high that Marseille have already been scouting central defenders as it may only be a matter of time before Nkoulou heads to pastures new.

Another deal which I don’t want to see is that which would involve summer signing Raspentino heading to Stade Brest on loan. Despite the excellent position OM currently sit in and the positives that Baup has implemented I am personally disappointed with the lack of opportunity for Raspentino. In a season where Amalfitano has been a little off the pace, someone like Raspentino should surely have been given more than 10 minutes cameo roles in the ligue.

The final possible deal is that involving Loic Remy. Newcastle would seem to be the likely destination for Remy, as it appears that they are about to lose Demba Ba. I would like OM to keep Remy, as if nothing else, without him competition for strikers is left purely between Gignac and Jordan Ayew. Positives from this transfer may be that an NUFC players comes in the opposite direction, suggested players being Gabriel Obertan or Sylvain Marvaux. However, given the signing of Kadir who plays in a similar position, and the fact that both Obertan and Marvaux have featured more prominently in Alan Pardew’s plans recently, it wouldn’t appear that a player deal would make that much sense for either team.

Allez l’OM

Advertisements

Marseille 1-0 Saint-Etienne – Match Report

Ayew Nods OM To The Top Of Ligue 1 Ahead Of Winter Break

But Ayew

Marseille head into the Christmas break as joint ‘Winter Champions’ after a insipid win over Saint-Etienne saw them equal the 3 points attained by both psg and Lyon earlier in the weekend. A sole Andre Ayew goal at the end of the first half was the difference in the result, despite Sainte being the better of the two sides over 90 minutes.

Saint-Etienne started the brightest as OM looked like they were going to surrender their excellent home record against les verts. Despite their dominance, ASSE only managed to create half-chances from corners and set-pieces that were generally cleared with ease.

The game changed on 45 minutes though as Marseille netted from their first chance on target. Fanni, whose crosses had amounted to little so far, crossed from deep on the right and found Andre Ayew who headed to the far post beyond Ruffier. To go into half time leading 1-0 was more than OM deserved in all honesty, as OM lacked any vision in getting the ball into the final third. Jordan Ayew was non-existent, but so was any quality in delivery to him either.

The second half started in exactly the same way as the first as OM failed to get a foothold on the game. Once again, ASSE pushed and pressed and were happy to counter quickly when needed. Cheyrou’s absence in midfield was noticeable, as Barton was left to do the work of 2 men, Nkoulou also had an uncharacteristically poor game leaving Lucas Mendes and Rod Fanni to clear up on a number of occasions. When Gignac eventually appeared, he surprisingly replaced Valbuena, who had been OM’s most threatening player, instead of the ineffective Jordan Ayew as many would have expected. Gignac’s influence was immediately noticeable as he held up play up-front in a way that jAyew simply can’t.

Both teams had half chances towards the end, with Saint-Etienne, probably having the better chances. If ASSE hadn’t went 5 games without scoring, their strikers may have played with a little more confidence and would have (indeed should have) scored.

Marseille held out to demonstrate what they have done so effectively this season, win ugly. Despite not setting out with a boring game plan, they have systematically overcome teams who have stifled them, typically teams who play in a similar manner to OM. Marseille have shown clinical finishing, and solid defending in order to win 7 games just 1-0.

Credit must be given to Elie Baup who has given the team a sense of purpose and desire. There is a team ethic that was rarely evident towards the end of Deschamp’s reign. There are few who would have predicted Marseille equalling psg on points at the top of Ligue 1 at Christmas, even fewer predict the same for the end of the season. But, as psg and Lyon have the Champions League and Europa League to concentrate on respectively, who knows what may happen?!

Top players: Mandanda, Barton, Lucas Mendes and Fanni

Worst players: Kabore, Jordan Ayew and Amalfitano

Match highlights and goals

Allez l’OM (Swanny @MarseilleUK)

Marseille v Saint-Etienne – Match Preview

OM v ASSE Preview

Sun 23/12/12 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille  

Ref – Olivier Thual

Background –

As psg celebrate finishing as winter champions, something they managed last year with 2 more points, Marseille play their final game before the break looking to finish with 7 more points and 3 places higher than last season. Sunday’s opponents, Saint-Etienne, have remained fairly consistent themselves this season and currently occupy 9th place. Sainte’s solid early season form has only recently come undone, having only picked up 1 win in their last 6 outings. So far on their travels ASSE have only won twice, however one of those was at psg, so they can manage when it matters.

 

Marseille –

The latest news on the team was that Amalfitano has recovered sufficiently from his injury against Toulouse in time to be included in the squad, Diawara is also back in contention. Cheyrou is surprisingly out, as is Abdallah.  Kabore will be most likely to step straight in in place of Cheyrou, with hopes that he will improve on his previous outings for OM. Gignac looks like he could have reclaimed his place in the starting 11 after coming off the bench and netting a stunning winner against Toulouse. Having failed to score in 5 matches, Jordan Ayew may have had his last start in a while.

The match-day squad is made up of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Diawara, N’Diaye, Abdullah, Kabore, Barton, Amalfitano, Valbuena, Raspentino, A. Ayew, Remy, Gignac, J. Ayew.

Although Diawara returns to the squad Baup may look for consistency in his back 4 line up with Fanni, Nkoulou, Mendes and Morel all performing well against Toulouse last week. Gignac’s return against his old club was marked with a superb individual goal, but his performance showed OM what they have missed in recent weeks too. His hard work and endeavour allows him to drift wide, supporting the midfield and wide players. His strength also gives him an advantage of Jordan Ayew, who fails to hold up the ball too often, and has lost possession by the time team-mates arrive in support. Both jAyew and fellow sub-striker Loic Remy may make late appearances, many expecting that this may be the last time Remy is seen at the Velodrome for the home side.

Predicted line-up and formation:

 OM v ASSE Formation

Who are they? –

Christophe Galtier brings les verts to the Velodrome looking to end the year in 5th place, should they win against Marseille. This will be no easy task for Sainte, having failed to win in their last 4 games, they have also failed to find the net in that run of form. History is also against ASSE as they have only won 8 of the previous 47 Ligue 1 meetings at the Velodrome, with the last win coming all the way back in 1979 as they beat OM 5-3. If that poor record is to be amended, Galtier needs his players on song before this Christmas break.

Saint-Etienne are likely to play with a similar formation to OM, a 4-2-3-1, and with their 4 attacking players they possess some incredible pace and have attacked teams successfully throughout this season through counter-attacks and probing down the wings. Thankfully for OM, ASSE are missing ex-phoceén, Brandao, who would hold up play and bring in his team-mates, and so they are left with the raw talents of Aubameyang, Gradel, Cohade and Hamouma. (On a personal note, I am glad to see Brandao doing well elsewhere, as he served the club extremely well when called upon last season).

With the striking abilities of both teams, the main battle during this game may come from either teams 2 defensive midfielders. Barton and Kabore for OM, Clement and Guilavogui for ASSE. Jeremy Clement against Joey Barton should be an intriguing battle with Clement’s defensive abilities likely to be getting in the way of Barton’s attacking threat. As Barton will be the more attacking of OM’s defensive midfield duo, his runs forward and link up play with OM’s attackers will see him enter Clement territory. Clement will undoubtedly look to protect the defence and Ruffier’s goal, as a goal conceded would most likely lead to a defeat. Expect Clement to sit deep potentially making a 5 man defensive unit if required.

The attacking threat that Saint-Etienne possess cannot be underestimated, just because they have not been successful recently. Aubameyang in particular has the ability to change the game in an instant, and I would feel much safer with the quicker pairing of Nkoulou and Mendes playing, than the inclusion of sometimes ‘lumbering’ Diawara.

 

Summary:

Just as last week’s game was a good time to play Toulouse, hopefully this will be a good time to play Saint-Etienne. Current and historical form is on Marseille’s side, however, football doesn’t always follow the expected script. The first goal in this game is likely to settle the result. Marseille have epically self-destructed 3 times, twice at home, when conceding, and Saint-Etienne have only scored once in five games, so a single goal could win it. This could be an exhilarating game with 2 very similar teams, however, the game is live on ESPN, so if it follows the usual script we’re all in for another Ligue 1 bore-fest.

Predicted result: Marseille 2-1 Saint-Etienne  

 

Allez l’OM (Swanny @MarseilleUK) 

 

Other Ligue 1 Games:

Brest 0-3 psg

Lille 4-1 Montpellier

Lyon 3-0 Nice

Bastia 4-2 Nancy

Bordeaux 0-0 Troyes

Ajaccio 2-4 Rennes

Lorient 2v2 Reims

Valenciennes v Evian

Toulouse v Sochaux

Is Remy Looking North?

Loic Remy

Almost as soon as the summer transfer window shut, talk has been about who would be moving where in January. One of the many talked about transfers has been about  Demba Ba leaving Newcastle, the  £7m release clause, the worst kept secret in football and apparent discussions, revelations, or ‘come get me pleas’ depending on how you wish to sensationalise a story, with the French media leading many to assume Arsenal may be his club come January.

To replace the half-season superhero Ba, Newcastle, amongst other Premier League teams have been linked with our very own French international striker, Loic Remy. Ignoring the financial issues in such a transfer and turning a blind eye to any suggested player swaps, possibly Gabriel Obertan or Sylvain Marveaux, let’s look at what Marseille would be losing and what Newcastle, or any other team, would gain.

Loic Remy is a striker who began his professional career at Lyon. During the 2007-2008 season, he was loaned out to RC Lens where he managed to net 3 times in 10 games. This brought about a permanent move to Nice where an increase in first team action saw him net 11 times in his first season and 16 times in his second. Remy joined les phocéens at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, for around £15m where he went on to net a career best 17 times, including 2 in the Champions League. Last season Remy confirmed his place amongst Ligue 1’s best strikers as he found the back of the net 22 times demonstrating a solid consistency.

Unfortunately for Remy his start to this season has saw him struggle with injuries, form and most importantly the confidence that he has demonstrated in the past. Since the summer Remy has only managed 90 minutes in 3 games, making mainly late substitute appearances on returns from niggling injuries.

Loic Remy2

Supposing Remy manages to shake off these injuries, builds up some confidence and starts finding the goal again, how will he do it? Without a doubt, one of Remy’s major strengths is his aerial power. Despite being just over 6 foot, not the tallest of players, Remy has a very good sense of positioning, and when he has a well-established partnership with someone who can cross, he will outmuscle defenders to get a header on goal. This is demonstrated well through his goal against PSG last season, where a deep cross from Azpilicueta was forced home by Remy (Remy PSG goal). At present Newcastle don’t play with wingers who tend to ‘get to the byline, crossing in from tight angles for strikers, so a player like Remy may suit the deep crosses from Davide Santon, Vernon Anita or the dreamboat Cabaye, when he is fit again.

Although he doesn’t possess the most explosive pace, Remy is good at hanging on to the back of defenders or pulling them out of position, allowing other strikers to exploit the space (something Cisse excelled in last season). He often drifts out to the left and if he received the ball he has been known to dribble, cut in and unleash some excellent shots. Again, this could provide its benefits for Newcastle. If Pardew is playing without Santon on the left, Ferguson and Gutierrez often look to offload the ball quickly, usually towards the middle of the pitch or backwards. Remy’s natural drift to the left would give a third stage to attacks down the left, whereby Remy could take the ball on himself or hold up play passing inside further up the field in a more dangerous position allowing the midfield to attack opposition defence 20-25 yards from the goal instead of the current 30+ yards away. (Remy shots and hanging on the last man)

Although they don’t play in exactly the same manner, there are a number of similarities between Demba Ba and Loic Remy. The Mike Ashley mantra of younger, better, cheaper (or buy risky as some people see it), could pay off. Remy, younger? Yes by just over a year. Cheaper? One can only imagine that Remy would not command the same wages as Demba Ba, and I think we can all safely assume he won’t have a £7m buy-out clause in his contract if he were to sign! Better? Hmm. Remy certainly has the ability and potential to make it in most premier league teams, and providing he adapts to the English game quicker than the last infamous French striker NUFC had on their books (Stephane Guivarc’h) he’ll go some way to getting the fans on his side, Remy’s much publicised praising of ‘great fans and a nice full stadium’ already warming Geordie hearts. Ba already boasts an impressive scoring record for last season and is well on his way to improving it this season, so if Remy is bought in as a direct replacement I’d say, better? No. If, however, he can be used to bring Cisse back into his sensational form from the end of last season then he could definitely make up a more productive partnership with Cisse than Ba currently does, thus providing the team with a more productive strike force pairing.

Allez l’OM and Howez NUFC!

Swanny (MarseilleUK)

Toulouse 0-1 Marseille – Match Report

Gignac Too Good For 9 Man Toulouse

A superb strike from former Toulouse player Andre-Pierre Gignac was enough to give Marseille a 3rd straight away win and see them go joint top of the ligue. As much as the Toulouse crowd complained about Benoit Batien’s refereeing, Toulouse only have themselves to blame for going down to 9 men and leaving themselves with little chance of getting any sort of positive result.

Toulouse received their first red on the half-hour mark as M’Benque recklessly challenged Amalfitano. Some complaints were that it was a little harsh, but with the way referees have managed games this season there have been far softer reds given.

The game could have been won almost before half time for Marseille. Tabanou brought down Jordan Ayew in the box and a penalty was awarded, surprisingly the referee rather leniently only booked Tabanou despite him being the last man. Unlike against Bastia earlier this week though, Andre Ayew couldn’t dispatch the penalty, his stuttering run up allowing Ahamada the time to choose correctly and save.

Less than 5 minutes later though, Tabanou had received his marching orders after a ridiculous challenge on Fanni. Even if he hadn’t been booked five minutes earlier it was a terrible challenge.

The introduction of Gignac gave Marseille a bit of a boost after half time, but they still couldn’t create any clear cut chances. Gignac’s hard work and endeavour saw him stereotypically drift out onto either flank and this lead led to his match winning goal. Morel played in Gignac down the left, who then cut in and sent a curling shot into the far right hand corner past Ahamada, who had been excellent all night.

As the game progressed, far from capitalising and adding to this goal lead, Toulouse looked the more likely to grab a goal and a hard fought equaliser. Thankfully though this didn’t happen and OM held on to go joint top of the ligue heading into the last round of fixtures before the winter break.

Goals & Highlights

Bastia 1-2 Marseille – Match Report

OM Silence Bastia

Marseille gained some self-respect with a hard fought win away at Bastia, following their home trouncing at the hands of Lorient last weekend. A stupendous Valbuena volley got OM up and running in the 15th minute, as Marseille gained the upper hand in the empty Stade Armand Cesari (the game being played behind closed doors after crowd trouble in the Corsican derby last month).

As the game progressed Marseille looked more comfortable and should have perhaps doubled their lead before half-time if it wasn’t for some wasted chances from both Ayews and Amalfitano.

Marseille made sure of the victory in the 70th minutes through an Ayew combination. After Jordan was fouled in Bastia’s penalty box, his brother Andre stepped up to dispatch the spot kick past Bonnefoi.

As has become tradition with Marseille recently though, OM opted to make life difficult for themselves in the final stages of the game. A combination of better pressing from the home side and some sloppy passing from OM gifted Bastia a few half-chances. After some poor finishing, Modeste made no mistake in beating Mandanda in the final 10 minutes.

With 5 minutes to go Baup brought on the fit again Gignac, who had a few half chances, but would have benefited from an opportunity to stretch his legs ahead of his return to Toulouse this coming weekend.

Goals & Highlights

Toulouse v Marseille – Match Preview

TFC v OM

Sat 15/12/12 – 17:00 (UK)

Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse

Ref – Benoit Bastien

Background –

Having restored some pride midweek with a 2-1 victory over Bastia, Marseille travel to Toulouse hoping to put themselves joint top of the ligue ahead of the psg v Lyon game on Sunday evening. Despite not having the greatest overall record over Toulouse away from home, Marseille have the better of recent records having last lost their 7 games ago in 2007. After a solid start to the season, much like OM, Toulouse made it as high as 3rd place after a 3-1 win over Brest in week 10. Having only lost one game by that point, TFC have subsequently lost 5 and only one once, although that was an emphatic 3-0 win over ligue leaders Lyon!

 

Marseille –

With the defensive midfield being made up with questionable performances from Kabore, and Abdullah filling in where possible, Elie Baup will be pleased to welcome back Benoit Cheyrou from injury and suspension. Baup was also able to welcome back early season star man, Andre-Pierre Gignac against Bastia and APG managed a 5 minute cameo at the end. Cheyrou may be in-line for a start, but Gignac will be more likely to remain on the bench against his former employers.

The travelling squad is made up of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Abdallah, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Abdullah, Cheyrou, Kabore, Barton, AMalfitano, Valbuena, Raspentino, A. Ayew, Remy, Gignac, J. Ayew.

Having performed as a team again against Bastia, Baup may keep the same starting 11, the other option being to drop Abdullah for the fit again Cheyrou. With both Remy and Gignac relatively fit again, this could be Jordan Ayew’s final chance to prove himself and keep his team mates out of the starting 11 having now failed to find the net in 4 matches. Either way it is likely that Gignac and Remy will manage some pitch time. Remy, to get him ‘in the shop window’ as club looks increasingly likely to offload him, and Gignac, to gain some pitch time ahead of the final game ahead of the winter break, next Sunday’s clash against Saint-Etienne.

Predicted line-up and formation:

 TFC v OM Formation

Who are they? –

Having started the season well, Alain Cassanova will be looking for a positive end from his players in the first half of the season. They currently sit only 7 points above the relegation zone, and with TFC playing 18th placed Sochaux next week, they really could be dragged into a relegation battle. This is something that would have been unthought-of of earlier this season, but their form after week 9 sees them sitting 17th in the table.

Alain Cassanova only has doubts over AYmen Adbennour and Moussa Sissoko as he chooses from a full strength squad that welcomes back Etienne Didot after a one match ban.

Jordan Ayew is likely to have his work cut out for him as he faces up against the in-form Etienne Capoue. Capoue is good in the air and on the floor and has a good positional sense too. Ayew will have to use some of his sometimes juvenile unpredictability in order to succeed against Capoue. Toulouse sit 7th and 8th in the defensive and attacking tables respectively, both 1 place ahead of OM, showing that despite recent form, they are more defensively astute and can grab goals consistently too. Many of these goals, particularly home ones have come from this seasons surprise package Wissam Ben Yedder. 7 of his 9 goals have come at Toulouse’ Stadium and his versatility sees him netting goals from dribbles, shots and surprisingly headers too. This is down to his excellent positional sense, so he must be watched closely when TFC are on the attack.

 

Summary:

This is hopefully a good time for Marseille to play Toulouse, given their recent run of form, particularly if the Lyon game is omitted. If Marseille play as they have in their last 3 wins, then they should win this game, but they need to break this ligue run of loss (0-1 Bordeaux), win (1-0 Lille), loss (1-4 Lyon), win (2-1 Brest), loss (0-3 Lorient), win (2-1 Bastia). If they can do this it really adds heat to the psg v Lyon game on Sunday evening too, with the winners having every chance of starting the winter break in 1st place.

Predicted result: Toulouse 2-3 Marseille

 

Allez l’OM (Swanny @MarseilleUK) 

 

Other Ligue 1 Games:

Valenciennes 0-4 psg

Nice 1-0 Rennes

Lille 2v0 Toulouse

Lyon 1v1 Nancy

Brest 1v2 Montpellier

Lorient 2v0 Sochaux

Ajaccio 2v0 Reims

Evian 2v0 Troyes

Bordeaux 0v0 Saint-Etienne

Bordeaux 0-0 Saint-Etienne

Rennes 2-0 Valenciennes

Nice v Evian

Reims v Lille

Montpellier v Bastia

Troyes v Ajaccio

Sochaux v Brest

Nancy v Bordeaux

Saint-Etienne v Lorient

psg v Lyon