Pres­sure on Emery as PSG meet Nice in sum­mit clash

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PARIS:

Unai Emery is once again a coach un­der pres­sure as his Paris Saint-Ger­main side pre­pare to face Nice on Sun­day look­ing to close the gap on the surprise Ligue 1 lead­ers. A 12-game un­beaten run had ap­peared the per­fect re­sponse to early-sea­son crit­i­cism of Emery at PSG, but in the last week the Spa­niard has seen his side hum­bled 3-0 by Mont­pel­lier and then left to scram­ble a 2-2 draw with Lu­do­gorets in the Cham­pi­ons League. Af­ter two such wor­ry­ing per­for­mances, it is de­bat­able whether Emery could even sur­vive a de­feat at home to Nice, which would leave the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons seven points adrift of the south­ern up­starts with the sea­son’s half­way stage ap­proach­ing.

“It is a dif­fi­cult spell, but we will show a re­ac­tion on Sun­day in what is a huge match for us,” in­sisted mid­fielder Blaise Ma­tu­idi, just about the only PSG player de­serv­ing of pass marks against Lu­do­gorets. PSG needed a late Angel di Maria equaliser to avoid de­feat at home to the Bul­gar­i­ans af­ter a lack­lus­tre dis­play but the re­sult meant they fin­ished sec­ond in Cham­pi­ons League Group A to Arse­nal. “This dis­ap­point­ment must give us the desire to lift our hands and show a dif­fer­ent face in the last 16. We must im­prove, and that starts on Sun­day against Nice,” said Emery in his still stum­bling French.

PSG have Adrien Rabiot and Javier Pa­s­tore on the side­lines while Di Maria is in wretched form, so they may look to Hatem Ben Arfa for cre­ative in­spi­ra­tion against the club for whom he starred last sea­son. With­out him, the side from the Cote d’Azur-with a re­ported budget less than a tenth of PSG’s-have gone from strength to strength this sea­son un­der Lu­cien Favre and they have topped the ta­ble since mid-Septem­ber.

They have only lost once in the league all sea­son and im­pressed in beat­ing Toulouse 30 last week­end to hold a three-point lead over Monaco and a four-point ad­van­tage over the capital giants.

Balotelli back?

Mario Balotelli is in line to fea­ture af­ter mak­ing his come­back from a month on the side­lines with a calf in­jury in Thurs­day’s Europa League meet­ing with Russian out­fit Krasnodar. Monaco travel to Bordeaux to­day know­ing a win would take them pro­vi­sion­ally top of the ta­ble, above Nice on goal dif­fer­ence. Leonardo Jardim’s pro­lific side are still run­ning at an av­er­age of more than three goals per game and were able to rest key play­ers for Wed­nes­day’s Cham­pi­ons League de­feat to Bayer Lev­erkusen in Ger­many hav­ing al­ready qual­i­fied for the last 16 as group win­ners. They are tar­get­ing the sym­bolic ti­tle of top­ping the ta­ble at the year’s end and striker Valere Ger­main said: “It would be nice to be autumn cham­pi­ons and we will give ev­ery­thing in the fi­nal matches of the year to do that.”

Lyon will aim to bounce back from the dis­ap­point­ment of be­ing elim­i­nated from the Cham­pi­ons League af­ter fail­ing to get the bet­ter of Sevilla as they host Rennes. Rennes are fourth but have strug­gled away from home this sea­son and Lyon can leapfrog them with a win. — AFP French Ligue 1 ta­ble ahead of this week­end’s matches (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points): Nice 16 12 3 1 30 10 39 Monaco 16 11 3 2 49 16 36 Paris SG 16 11 2 3 30 11 35 Rennes 16 8 3 5 18 19 27 Guingamp 16 7 5 4 21 15 26 Lyon 15 8 1 6 28 18 25 Bordeaux 16 6 6 4 20 18 24 Toulouse 16 6 4 6 18 16 22 Saint-Eti­enne 16 5 7 4 16 14 22 Mar­seille 16 5 6 5 16 17 21 Angers 16 5 4 7 15 18 19 Mont­pel­lier 16 4 7 5 23 28 19 Metz 15 5 3 7 16 29 18 Lille 16 5 2 9 15 21 17 Di­jon 16 3 7 6 22 25 16 Nancy 16 4 4 8 12 22 16 Caen 16 4 3 9 16 30 15 Bas­tia 16 3 5 8 12 20 14 Nantes 16 3 4 9 9 26 13 Lori­ent 16 3 3 10 16 29 12

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.