By Andy Ferguson

Valenciennes claim another victim

Valenciennes FC continued to act as Ligue 1’s record breakers in what was a weekend of shock results across France.

Having ended Marseille’s 100% start to the season with a 4-1 victory in Week 7, VA went on to better that by demolishing unbeaten Lorient 6-1 at the Stade du Hainaut on Saturday.

Valenciennes have turned the Hainaut into a fortress, winning three and drawing three of their six home games this term. What is more impressive is that the northern side have only conceded two goals on home soil – a figure bettered only by Ajaccio.

Their excellent start to the campaign has seen VA climb to fifth in the table, just four points behind new leaders Paris Saint-Germain. It’s a huge turnaround in fortunes for Daniel Sanchez’s side, who have been battling closer to the relegation area in the past couple of seasons.

Despite losing key men Renaud Cohade and Mamadou Samassa in the summer, former-Liverpool forward Anthony Le Tallec has joined the ranks from relegated Auxerre and kick-started his Valenciennes’ career in blistering form.

Having been particularly impressive against Marseille, Le Tallec hit a wonderful double on Saturday, taking his goal tally to four for the campaign.

The striker has been aided by the fine contribution of winger Gael Danic. The 30-year old has shone on the left hand side for VA this season and was on the score sheet again against Lorient.

The weekend’s result sees Lorient crash back down to earth after their exceptionally bright start in Ligue 1. The Brittany side were let down by rash tackles from Arnaud Le Lan and the not-so Innocent Emeghara, as both saw red and nine-man Lorient crumbled to defeat.

Valenciennes face Lille in Week 10 in what should be an enthralling encounter, whilst Lorient will look to bounce back from their humiliation at home to Ajaccio.

Possibly the biggest shock of the season so far took place at Stade de l’Aube on Sunday night as bottom side Troyes defeated title challengers Olympique de Marseille 1-0.

Troyes, who had been without a win in Ligue 1 prior to the weekend, stunned the visitors with a 90th minute winner from veteran midfielder Benjamin Nivet.

The 35 year-old, who is in his second spell with the club from the Champagne region, had hit the bar with a header earlier in the game before sending the home fans into raptures with his late strike.

Having looked impressive in Le Classique against PSG in Week 8, Marseille were expected to pick up where they had left off and sweep aside the newly promoted outfit. However, Elie Baup’s side failed to take their chances and were made to pay by a resilient Troyes.

What is more concerning for OM fans is the condition of striker Andre-Pierre Gignac. The forward had to be carried from the pitch in the first half after falling awkwardly when challenging for a high ball. Early signs suggest a foot fracture, which would sideline the in-form Gignac for an extended period of time.

Gignac’s replacement Loic Remy looked less than competent, squandering a gilt-edge chance and having an effort ruled out for offside in added time.

PSG cruise into top spot

Marseille’s loss was Paris Saint-Germain’s gain as they cemented their position at the top of Ligue 1 with a 1-0 win over a spirited Stade de Reims side the previous night.

However, it wasn’t plain sailing for the Parisians and they had goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu to thank for a string of excellent saves and a fine stop to turn away Diego’s 40th minute penalty.

Fallen giants Reims hadn’t won away from home all campaign, but looked determined not to come away from the Parc des Princes empty handed. The visitors were impressive in the early going, dictating the tempo and creating the best attempts on goal.

PSG, who were struggling with injuries and suspension in midfield, had to dig deep in the second half to secure the win. Blaise Matuidi was again impressive in the capital side’s midfield, hitting the woodwork along with international teammate Jeremy Menez, before the diminutive Kevin Gamiero rose to head PSG into the lead and into top spot.

Paris Saint-Germain now sit in first place with 19 points, ahead of rivals Marseille on goal difference. Following their midweek European excursions, PSG travel to Nancy, whilst OM face a difficult task at home to third placed Lyon.

Week 9 – Results

Girondins de Bordeaux 1 – 1 LOSC Lille

Valenciennes FC 6 – 1 Lorient FC

AS Nancy Lorraine 1 – 1 FC Sochaux Montbeliard

OGC Nice 1 – 1 AS Saint-Etienne

Evian TG FC 0 – 4 Toulouse FC

Stade Rennais 2 – 1 Montpellier Herault

Paris Saint-Germain 1 – 0 Stade de Reims

Olympique Lyonnais 1 – 0 Stade Brestois

AC Ajaccio 0 – 0 SC Bastia

ESTAC Troyes 1 – 0 Olympique de Marseille