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

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