Angers 0 Lyon 3
The result of this game was never in doubt once Thomas Mangani was sent off in the 16th minute. For the first time this season, Lyon have strung two dominant wins in a row. Winning 3-0 against both Bordeaux and Lyon puts Bruno Genesio’s men right back in contention for Champions League qualification.
Such is the seesaw nature of the Ligue 1 chasing pack that these two wins have pushed Lyon up from 10th in the table to just a point behind their vanquished opponents, with Nice and Saint-Étienne only three points ahead. Of course, critics will say that Lyon should really have been comfortable in second or third considering their exploits last season and the quality of their squad. A whole host of issues from injuries to differences within the squad resulted in a depressing first half of the season.
However, there are signs that things are starting to click for last season’s runners up. Mathieu Valbuena is finally showing the form that made him such a star in Ligue 1 when he was at Marseille. While the defence still looks vulnerable, they are now playing with more calmness and authority. Significantly, the young stars who broke out in the last campaign are now recovering their mojo. Corentin Tolisso dominated the game in midfield, orchestrating some beautiful moves and capping his fine display with Lyon’s third goal. Meanwhile Rachid Ghezzal continues to improve with each passing game. The young Algerian is filling the void left by Nabil Fekir’s injury and if he continues his progression then Genesio will have quite the selection dilemma when all his attacking players are fit. With most of their toughest fixtures out of the way, Lyon should now, at the very least capture third spot.
On the other hand, Angers’ fine start to the season is catching up to them. A tough run of fixtures since January has seen three defeats in five matches. Angers entered the new year with only nine goals conceded, but that figure has now ratcheted up to 23. It is a testament to their fine start that they still have the third best defence in the league. However, some indiscipline is costing Stéphane Moulin’s men. Moulin’s organized approach requires all the players to sing from the same hymn sheet, but it is not a system that can work with ten men.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that survival alone would have constituted a successful season for Angers. European qualification always seem fanciful, however there is no reason why Angers shouldn’t finish in the top ten. If Moulin can get his players to regain their composure, this tough spell can be ridden out. There are plenty of points to be won for Angers to finish comfortably in mid table.