Ayew Nods OM To The Top Of Ligue 1 Ahead Of Winter Break
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
Allez l’OM (Swanny @MarseilleUK)