Monthly Archives: November 2013

Marseille 2-0 Montpellier – 29/11/13 – Match report


Marseille made it 1000 Ligue 1 wins and 3 Ligue 1 wins in a row as they saw off Montpellier to go 4th in the ligue standings. A first half Thauvin strike, followed up with a cheeky injury time goal from Khalifa secured the 3 points.

Elie Baup made a number of changes to the side that lost 0-2 to Arsenal mid-week, with Diawara, Mendy, Cheyrou, Payet, Valbuena and Thauvin all starting the game.

The game started evenly, Montpellier not put off by the bad knee injury sustained by Bakar within the first minute. Bakar’s replacement Montano shot wide in the game’s first real chance after he managed to sneak in behind the OM defence.

Thauvin had OM’s first real chance but Jourdren saved well from close range. He also did well to deny Gignac and Velbuena in close succession shortly after too.

Marseille broke the deadlock in the 36th minute as Abdallah crossed towards Payet. The Montpellier defence failed to clear though and Payet’s pressure meant the ball dropped to Thauvin who neatly side-footed home from just outside the 6 yard box. This was Thauvin’s 8th goal in 8 games for club and country as he seems to have captured the form that made him such a hot prospect last season.

As the second half started and progressed Montpellier pushed for an equaliser but struggled to really test Mandanda. As they tried in vain to get in behind the OM defence their through-balls were played from too deep and were often over-hit.

As the game neared the end Baup brought off Valbuena and Cheyrou in place of Lemina and Imbula and both showed positive composure and class in the closing minutes, suggesting that the master class from Arsenal mid-week hadn’t affected their confidence too much. As Baup tried to wind the clock down he brought on Khalifa in place of Payet. Khalifa netted in the last minute of added time. Thauvin was again involved as he played the ball into Khalifa from the right. Khalifa received the ball on the edge of the box and as Congre put him under pressure he calmly nutmegged him, slotting past Jourdren for his first OM goal.

Up next for OM is Lille on Tuesday evening as Thauvin returns to the club he never played for. More at stake though is that Lille currently occupy 3rd spot and are 3/6 points ahead (to be amended dependant on Saturday night’s game).

Marseille v Montpellier – Match Preview – 29/11/13

After a disappointing outing midweek in the Champions League against Arsenal, Marseille return to Ligue 1 action just 3 days later against Montpellier at the Velodrome. OM will hope to make it 3 ligue wins from 3, while Montpellier look for their first win since their 5-1 demolition of Lyon, since playing out 3 straight losses followed by 3 draws.

Elie Baup is still without Andre Ayew, Rod Fanni and Laurent Abergel, however, Dimitri Payet does return to the squad. After being dominated on the left and in midfield and also creating very little upfront, Baup may bring about wholesale changes to the starting 11. It wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see Morel, Khalifa, Imbula, Lemina and Jordan Ayew return to the bench, while Abdallah may be safe for now due to the absence of Fanni still.

Cheyrou and Romao could be the central midfield pairing, with Payet, Valbuena and Thauvin hoping to keep their current ligue form going. As in previous games, getting the ball to those 3 players is a sure fire way of creating chances. With Gignac’s ability to draw defenders wide and out of position it also provides Valbuena with extra space in field, and Payet/Thauvin with opportunities to cut inside.

The full OM squad is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, mendes, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Cheyrou, Imbula, Romao, Valbuena, Thauvin, Lemina, J.Ayew, Gignac, Khalifa, Payet.

Likely starting line-up and formation:
Abdallah Nkoulou Mendes Mendy
Romao Cheyrou
Payet Valbuena Thauvin

Montpellier are currently 16th in the ligue table and are yet to win an away game having drawn 4 and losing their other 2. Away games against the ‘bigger teams’ have resulted in loses to date (1-4 Monaco and 0-2 Bordeaux). Montpellier’s problem this season has been picking up draws that could have been wins, with 8 of their 18 goals conceded coming in the last 15 minutes of either half. Jean Fernandez has no new injury or suspension concerns since their last game and is expected to name an unchanged team.

Likely line-up and formation:
Marveaux Hilton Congri Kaoutari
Stambouli Saihi
Camara Sanson Cabella

With games against Lille, Nantes, Lyon, Dortmund and Bordeaux coming up Marseille will be desperate to pick up 3 points and give themselves a little bit of breathing space between the chasing pack. With 7th placed Lyon and 17th placed Lorient only separated by 5 points, we want to keep clear of being dragged into that fight. Montpellier don’t really have the form going into this game, in terms of current or historical, having only won once at the Velodrome in 18 matches, although that was only 2 seasons ago.

Allez l’OM!
Andrew (@aswanny84 & @MarseilleUK)

Arsenal 2-0 Marseille – 26/11/13

Supporting a team from a different city or country is never going to be an easy thing, but with the social media and technology we have today I have found it easier and easier watch Marseille games from a distance and from the comfort of my sofa. Unfortunately watching them in person, hasn’t got that much easier for me. You can’t fly from Newcastle to Marseille, often the only flight into France is to Paris, trains to London are obscenely priced to then make a connection, oh, and I’m a teacher too so unless there’s a game during the holidays I couldn’t go anyway. But, every once in a while you feel like someone is smiling and looking over you as when the Champion’s League fixtures were announced, fate would have it that I was already booked on a training course in London on the day of the Arsenal game. What an opportunity! So I made my best plans to get hold of tickets in the away end.

Unfortunately the tickets that a few of us were expecting, never arrived, after a hold up at Paris airport (damn Parisians!). Richard, who had ordered the tickets desperately tried everything to make arrangements, including getting in touch with the supporters group, trying to get replacements, even speaking to Arsenal explaining the situation, but unfortunately nothing happened. So with less than 24 hours to the game we sent out some emergency tweets, asking anyone for an RT in an attempt to find some spare tickets, I was even contacting Arsenal supporting friends asking about tickets in the home end out of sheer desperation! Good friends on twitter were asking around too, but it wasn’t looking good, so I sulked off to bed in an attempt to get some sleep before the big day.

The day started at 3:30, with a quick coffee, bite to eat and then de-ice of the car before setting off to Doncaster (last train back to Newcastle leaves London at 10.00, meaning I’d have to leave the game at half time to get home, whereas last train to Doncaster is 11.30 meaning I could stay for the whole game, but does involve 2 hour drive each way). An ambient musical playlist was provided by The XX, Fleetwood Mac with a little bit of Van Halen (‘Jump’) thrown in to get me into the mood for hopefully watching OM. As I sat waiting for my train to London, I couldn’t help worry that the trip would be in vain, as I still had no ticket and would be relying on someone having a spare, so began planning what tourist sites I could later visit in London as I waited for my late return train. As the train neared London, re-tweets started flashing through and a message from Liam came through asking if I was down for the game, I explained the situation, and after hearing that he’d try and sort something, my reception was lost to London’s mighty tunnels and underground system.

Photo 26-11-2013 17 42 25

When I emerged from Earl’s Court tube stop, the phone vibrated and as I looked I saw a message from Liam: ‘Sorted’. Enough said. My course was good enough, but it was a struggle to stop my mind from wandering to the thought of being in such a fantastic ground, in with the OM ultras. After finishing up, it was time to head over to Kings Cross. I met up with Ben, a huge OM fan, and we chatted about OM, life, work and everything in between like a pair of old mates who hadn’t seen each other for years. Photo 26-11-2013 18 32 35As good as the beer was, we both had one thing to sort still, tickets. Off we headed to the Emirates. Ben went to meet Franky, top honcho amongst the Virage Sud ultras, and I headed to meet Liam and his ‘contact’. Time was getting on, and I was still a bit worried that the tickets might not materialise, so when we met Karim, and he didn’t have them I was flapping a little. As Karim’s contact showed up shortly after and distributed tickets amongst his friends, it looked even worse as Karim started to count numbers on his hands and anxiously looked in our direction. Finally, Karim’s contact handed him a couple more, and we had them! Panic over, worry ended, excitement building, beer time. We headed to the nearby pub and met up with Ben, Franky and Marek, and we all headed into the back room where the OM fans were already in full voice.

Photo 26-11-2013 19 03 37As exciting as it was, to be amongst the ultras, singing away happily with their Arsenal counterparts, it was game time so we headed to the away section. After a quick bag search and pat down, we were in and headed for our ‘seats’. Security quickly told us, ‘just find anywhere mate, no one’s sitting where they should be’. He was right, no one was sitting where they should have been, and they weren’t even standing where they should’ve been, in fact when the game kicked of everyone was standing on the seat of any space they could find. I wasn’t to complain though, as I ended up only 12 rows or so from the front even closer to the flag waving, chanters, who I’d really wanted to be amongst. The Emirates as a stadium is undoubtedly impressive. Fair facilities in the away end and even padded seats. The curvature of the top of the stands reminded me a little of the Velodrome, but unfortunately, as with most modern stadiums it lacks a little character, as did the atmosphere for most of the evening.  Aside from the obvious 2 cheers from home fans, the most noise came when Arsenal made their substitutions. An occasional chant of ‘Ar-se-nal’ rang round a few times along with a semi-impressive call and response song between the Clock end and North Bank, though nowhere near the spectacle that the Virage Nord and Sud create at the Velodrome.

Photo 26-11-2013 19 42 28

So after all of the excitement what better way to start a game than to go 0-1 down within the opening minute? Typical. OM were tore apart down the left as Morel and Khalifa in particular struggled with Arsenal’s dominance and slick passing play. OM struggled to get a foothold on the game, as Arsenal passed the ball around them with ease. Even when Marseille did manage to win a tackle and retain the ball, the midfield 3 of Lemina, Romao and Imbula where too far away from the forward 3 of Jordan Ayew, Gignac and Khalifa, so hopefull through-balls and punts up the pitch where never going to help. In truth a change in formation to the usual 4-2-3-1, or even a temporarily defensive 4-5-1 would have helped to control the game a little more. It was almost inevitable that without Valbuena, Payet and Thauvin in the starting 11, OM would find it difficult against a team as good as Arsenal, particularly with the confidence that Arsenal have at the moment, but the lack lustre performance from a number of the OM players was difficult to take as a fan. The fans did manage to air their grievances a little, and made sure that Jordan Ayew understood what they thought of his typically lethargic performance as he was substituted in the 2nd half.

Keeping the game at 0-1 was mainly down to Mandanda, who had another of his incredible games, pulling of some great saves including a penalty save from Ozil in the 1st half. Nkoulou and Mendes did manage to snuff out many attacks too once the ball inevitably made its way into the centre after going past either Abdallah or Morel all too often.

Wilshere’s 2nd of the game really took the wind out of the OM sails, as with 30 minutes left and the introduction of Valbuena and Thauvin, it looked like Marseille might actually fancy getting something out of the game. Half chances were few and far between though, with an audacious lob by Gignac being cleared on the goal line the closest we managed, before two late Thauvin strikes were saved well by Szczesny.

Unfortunately the full time whistle went without even a consolation goal to cheer me up about the remaining return part of my journey. Valbuena, Romao and Mandanda noticeably came over to pay tribute to the OM fans at the end of the game, with Romao giving his shirt to one supporter at the front who had presumably lost his own as he spent the entire chilly night topless, clapping and chanting.

A mere 7 hours after the game finished I eventually climbed into bed and managed a grand 2 hours sleep before having to get up for work. It was a good sleep though, dreaming about my mini adventure, and thinking about the fantastic people I met. I hope it won’t be too long before I meet Franky, Marek, Liam and Ben again, weather that’s in London, Newcastle or hopefully even in the Velodrome, it doesn’t really matter.

My eye-balls literally feel like Ferero-Roches as I write this, and you know what, I’d do it all again tomorrow if I could.

Allez l’OM!

Andrew (@aswanny84 & @MarseilleUK)

Ajaccio v Marseille – 22/11/13 – Match Preview

Ajaccio v Marseille 22/11/13

After an eventful international break for our French stars, OM will hope to bring about some cheer to the OM fans by picking up a good set of results before Christmas, beginning with the Corsican side Ajaccio.

Marseille sit in 5th after their tepid win over Sochaux before the break, while Ajaccio are 2nd bottom, manageress and have only picked up 1 point from their last 6 games. Their only win of the season did come at home though, against Lyon. They also picked up a draw against psg, which suggests they could be ‘up for the big games’.

Elie Baup is without Fanni, Andre Ayew and Abergel. The full squad is made up of Mandanda, Smaba, Abdallah, Diawara, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Cheyrou, Imbula, Romao, Valbuena, Thauvin, Lemina, j. Ayew, Gignac, Khalifa and Payet.

It is expected that Mendy and Gignac will start, having missed a number of games recently. Valbuena and Thauvin will aim to keep their good form going, while Payet will hope to regain his early season form.

Probable line-up and formation:


Abdallah Nkoulou Diawra Mendy

Imbula Romao

Payet Valbuena Thauvin



Ajaccio are without Faty, Zubar, Pedretti and Mutu, and if Marseille are even half on form, they should struggle in all areas against them to be honest. With Mutu’s absence they will be relying on Oliech and Arrache up-front who only have 5 ligue starts between them. If they are to get anything out of the game they will rely heavily on Ochoa to repeat his heroics from the psg game earlier this season. Expected line-up and formation:


Hengbart Perozo Diena Crescenzi

Lasne Pierazzi Mostefa Andre




On paper, this should be a relatively straightforward win for Marseille, however, OM have hardly done things the easy or straightforward way this season, so it could be quite a tight game and result.


Allez l’OM

(@aswanny84 & @marseilleUK)

Marseille 2-1 Sochaux 10/11/13

Sochaux So Close To Punishing Marseille

Thauvin OM

A late Gignac penalty saved OM’s blushes as they struggled to brush aside a disciplined and determined Sochaux team who performed far better than they form or ligue position would suggest.

The start was about as good as Marseille could have hoped for. Playing adventurous football, Abdallah and Mendy pushing forwards and it was the latter who set up the games opening goal. Finding space down the left Mendy crossed after cutting back, Thauvin found a yard of space after losing his marker and planted his header back to the front post. Ecstatic, the youngster who has really found his form in the last few games paraded a ‘joyeux anniversaire PAPA’ poster during his celebrations.

The reminader of the first half was fairly even. Valbuena linking up well with Thauvin and Payet, but often to no avail as Jordan Ayew failed to make his presence felt as the lone striker. Sochaux also had a few half chances to test Mandanda as they managed to get in behind the OM defence, but good covering from Diawara foiled them twice.

Marseille should have made it 2 within 10 minutes of the restart as Jordan Ayew almost capitalised on a Sochaux defnsive blunder left him one on one with Pouplin. Unfoirtunately, he lost his composure, took a touch too many and the Sochaux covering defender tackled with relative ease to block his shot. A chorus of boos rang out around the Velodrome after that, as it appears the majority of OM  fans are starting to get fed up with Ayew’s lacklustre performances.

OM paid the price for this minutes later as Mayuka picked up the ball wide on the right after Mendy misjudged a simple header from a Pouplin clearance. Once Mayuka was on the ball he skipped past Diawara, Nkoulou, a reovering Mendy and then Cheyrou befor unleashing an awesome shot that flew past Mandanda into the far corner.

After removing the tired Valbuena for Imbula, it looked like Baup was aiming to hold out for another draw in the ligue and avoid defeat or a win. On 80 minutes though he brought on Gignac for Ayew (again to a chorus of boos).

It was at the other end that the action almost happened though as Romao appeared to trip Mayuka in the box before clearing the OM lines. Sochaux were understandably annoyed at not picking up a penalty but OM pushed further. From the break, Gignac took a shot at goal but his shot was blocked by Peybernes but bounced up and hit his arm. AFter some debate the referee controversially awarded OM the penalty, which Gignac confidently netted.

The rest of the game was fairly even with OM barely looking to extend their lead and Sochaux struggling to create anything clear.

Far from a comfortable victory for OM, but a much needed 3 points for Elie Baup ahead of the international break. OM go into the break in 5th place and face Ajaccio next before Arsenal ahead of the players strike.

Tops: Mendy, Thauvin

Flops: jAyew

Full report and highlights to follow.

Allez l’OM

(@aswanny84 & @marseilleUK)

Marseille – Sochaux 10/11/13

Having now failed to win in 7 games, Marseille will hope for a much needed boost as they face the team bottom of Ligue 1 with only 7 points to their name, Sochaux.

The away defeat to Napoli in the Champion’s League on Wednesday came as a bitter blow is the general attacking performance certainly warrented more. However, defensive inadequacies cost the team dear, as they have too often this season, a far cry from the watertight back line of last season.

Elie Baup is without the suspended Andre Ayew and injured Rod Fanni, although Lucas Mendes does return to the squad and Jeremy Morel retains his place.

Given the defensive issues of late it remains to be seen if Baup will tinker with the defensive line up and may persevere with Abdallah, Diawara and Morel to partner Nkoulou, instead of starting with Mendes and Mendy. It is almost certain that 3 of the forward 4 will be Payet, Valbuena and Thauvin, but Baup may give thaught to starting the fit again Gignac or Khalifa ahead of Jordan Ayew.

The full OM squad is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Cheyrou, Imbula, Romao, Valbuena, Thauvin, Lemina, jAyew, Gignac, Khalifa & Payet.

Likely line-up and formation:


Abdallah Nkoulou Diawara Morel

Romao Imbula

Payet Valbuena Thauvin



Sochaux come into the game into this game in just as bad form as OM with their only win of the ligue campaign coming against Valenciennes at the end of September. They probably have the edge in terms of confidence as in their last 4 games they’ve picked up respectable draws against Monaco and Saint-Etienne and a Coupe de la Ligue win over Montpellier.

Likely line up and formation:


Corchia Zouma Kante Faussurier

Nogueira Lopy Prcic

Contout Bakambu Roudet


A definite must win for both teams. Baup needs a win to keep his job. OM need the win to stay in touch with the top teams. Sochaux need it to put themselves within temporary touching distance of safety.


Allez l’OM

(@aswanny84 & @marseilleUK)

Rennes and Napoli Reports

02/11/13 – Rennes 1-1 Marseille

The main positive that could be said about this game was, at least we stopped the rot, and avoided another defeat.

After another poor to a game, Marseille were lucky to be only 0-1 down within 10 minutes. Defensive blunders aplenty gave Rennes 3 good chances, but it was Oliver’s second chance that opened the scoring. A Morel mistake (huge surprise there) gifted Olivier the ball on the edge of the area and he let rip with a shot that left Mandanda with little chance of saving it.

This at least seemed to spur OM on, who seemed to wake up. On 14 minutes after Valbuena and Thauvin had already combined to warm Cotsil’s hands, Jordan Ayew managed to grab a goal. It came on the back of some good work from Romao who played in Abdallah whose accurate cross found jAyew who slotted home into an almost empty goal.

As much as OM dominated parts of the game, Rennes always looked incredibly dangerous on the counter with Kadir, Pitroipa and Alessandrini combining well often.

The second half brought much of the same with Thauvin and Valbuena looking the most lively of the OM players, but it looked to have been in vain when OM loan man Kadir was fouled in the box and Rennes awarded a penalty. Thankfully, Mandanda made up for some of his recent shaky performances with a fine save.

The game was possibly still there for the taking but some negative changes from Baup, would suggest that he was more than happy to hang on to a point.


06/11/13 Napoli 3-2 Marseille

With little more than pride to play for, along with an outside chance of finishing 3rd and a Europa League spot, Marseille started the game well. Seemingly away from the pressures of their own fans or just being out of the country, or perhaps they found a little bit of determination and desire, they passed well and found space and put the home side under pressure early on.

This start got even better when Andre Ayew opened the scoring on 10 minutes after he headed in an excellent corner from Thauvin.

Unfortunately that’s where most of the positives ended. OM defence capitulated in their usual spectacular fashion gifting first Inler and the Higuain perfect opportunities that they converted spectacularly and easily.

This was all within 25 minutes and it looked like it could be another of those nights where we were embarrassed on a global stage, out of Europe without so much of a whimper.

Somehow though we held on. Thauvin in particular had the kind of game that he is capable of, while Valbuena continued with his ever impressive consistently good form. Thauvin’s hard work and endeavour looked to have paid off for OM as he netted in the 65th minute.

Unfortunately, as good as we were in attack, we were equally, if not worse in defence. This allowed Huguain to net his second with 15 minutes left to play as he netted in acres of space.

It is desperately disappointing that after missing out on Champion’s League football last season we have 0 points from 4 games this time out. With our remaining games against Dortmund and Arsenal our best hope is to at least have some more positive performances and finish with some points! Lets enjoy those last few games as fans because who knows when we’ll be back in the Champion’s League at this rate!

Allez l’OM

(@aswanny84 & @marseilleUK)