Lorient - Monaco - Sunday 13.00 GMT
Monaco, who travel to Lorient on Sunday, want to bounce back after their disappointing draw at home against Gazelec Ajaccio last weekend (2-2). It was a very poor first half by Monaco’s standards and they were very lucky to even get a point. They are still third in the table but they missed a great opportunity last weekend to strengthen their hold on second place. Now, they have another tricky game away at Lorient on a plastic pitch. They won there in the last game of last season but had no win in seven games there before that.
They don’t like travelling to Lorient but they have been excellent away from home this one with just one defeat in ten league games so far. They are unbeaten in their last eight Ligue 1 games too and their new signing Vagner Love should make his debut as well. They will need to be more solid defensively though than they were against Ajaccio last weekend.
Unlike Monaco, Lorient played in midweek in the League Cup and were beaten at Bordeaux but played well especially in the second half. The problem is that their best players are out injured. Moukandjo and Waris won't be fit for this game which doesn’t leave many options for Sylvain Rippol up front. Lamine Koné, who almost signed for Sunderland, is back in Lorient and could start the game. I think that Lorient could still cause problems for Monaco and get a point.
The odds are slightly in favour of Monaco with an away win at 2.50. A draw is at 3.10 and a Lorient home win is at 3.00
Guido Carrillo is favourite to score first at 7.00. My best tip is a draw and both teams to score at 4.50.
Score prediction: Lorient 1 Monaco 1 at 6.75
Caen - Marseille - Sunday 16.00 GMT
Before travelling to Caen on Sunday, Marseille are officially in crisis. Their poor defeat at Toulouse on Wednesday in the League Cup quarter-final came three days after a terrible 0-0 draw at home against Guingamp. The players and the manager were booed by the fans who chanted the name of Marcelo Bielsa, the former manager.
Marseille have many players out injured like Cabella, Dja Djedje, Ocampos, Alessandrini and Mendy. Nkoulou and Rekik were suspended in midweek but are back for this game but the situation is very difficult now. The atmosphere around the team is bad and the players have lost confidence. The fans are not happy with the 11th place in the table and the team is only six points clear of the bottom three. However, away from home, l’OM have done very well lately in the league with four wins and a draw in their last five games away from the Vélodrome. They feel less pressurised when they play away from home and have been solid too. But the last two results could have changed the away dynamic as well. Michel, the Spanish manager, is under more and more pressure and Marseille have not been able so far to recruit anyone in January either.
Caen want their revenge over l’OM who knocked them out of the French Cup on penalties at the start of the year, ten days ago. Caen played well but could not beat Steve Mandanda in goal. They want to redeem themselves on Sunday in their packed stadium, especially after their defeat against Angers last weekend in the league (2-0). They need to bounce back and they will on Sunday. I expect them to put on a high intensity performance to get the three points against Marseille.
The odds are quite even with a Marseille away win at 2.45. The draw is at 3.30 and a Caen home win is at 2.95.
Michy Batshuayi is favourite to score first at 5.80 but my best tip is Caen to score in both halves at 4.50. Andy Delort to score at anytime at 3.65 is also very interesting.
Score prediction: Caen 2 Marseille 1 at 12.00
St Etienne - Lyon - Sunday 20.00 GMT
This is the big clash of the weekend in Ligue 1. The Derby du Rhone, between St Etienne and Lyon on Sunday evening, is one of the biggest in French football. The hatred between the two clubs and the two sets of fans is huge and St Etienne will want to redeem themselves after their humiliating 3-0 defeat in Lyon in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
The conditions will be very difficult as it will be very cold but it will be a fascinating game. St Etienne have struggled a bit in the past few weeks with only one league win in their last five, with three defeats and a draw. There went from 4th place down to 7th now, only behind Lyon in 6th on goal difference.
Last season, les Verts won the derby at home for the first time in twenty years and ended the curse. They are hoping they can do it again. They have the second best record at home in the league this season so far behind PSG and they are pumped up to get back to winning ways after their defeat last weekend in the league at Nantes (2-1). They were so poor in that game that they really need to bounce back, react and show some pride on Sunday. They will go for it, but they will be without Loic Perrin, their captain and centre half, who is injured. Assou-Ekotto and Hamouma are out too.
For Lyon, this is a huge game too. It is the first derby for the manager Bruno Genesio, who replaced Hubert Fournier after Christmas. He played in many of them but it is his first as head coach.
The pressure will be intense but his team showed on Wednesday in Paris against PSG in the League Cup, despite the defeat (2-1), that they are back to near their best. They need to show it on Sunday. Mathieu Valbuena is back to full fitness which is a big boost but Maxime Gonalons, the defensive midfielder and captain, is out. Alexandre Lacazette, who scored a hat trick in the reverse fixture, looks in top form as well and scored the first goal in OL’s new stadium last weekend. It will be a great game and I think that it will end in a draw.
The odds are almost even with a St Etienne home win at 2.60. A draw is at 3.20 and a Lyon away win is at 2.85.
Alexandre Lacazette is favourite to score first at 6.00. My best tip is Lyon to score in both halves at 4.35.
Score prediction: St Etienne 2 Lyon 2 at 16.00