Carrillo the surprise star as Monaco head to ASSE
He may have Radamel Falcao for company, but Guido Carrillo's star has been shining brightest as AS Monaco have got their Ligue 1 Conforama campaign back on track with consecutive wins following back-to-back defeats.
AS Saint-Etienne - AS Monaco
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The principality club won their first French top-flight title in 17 years last term, beating this season's pace-setters Paris Saint-Germain over the line by seven points. A mass exodus followed, though, with Kylian Mbappé, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Tiemoué Bakayoko among those finding pastures new.
Monaco were nonetheless second this year until a Week 14 defeat to PSG, which saw Mbappé's new partners in crime, Edinson Cavani and Neymar, get on the scoresheet in a dispiriting 2-1 loss for Leonardo Jardim's side. Defeat to FC Nantes followed, but Monaco have got back on track with back-to-back wins over Angers SCO and ESTAC Troyes, the latter of which saw Carrillo bag a brace.
"I'm very pleased with Carrillo, he's an exceptional guy who works hard," enthused Jardim of a player who subsequently made it three goals in two games in all competitions again SM Caen in the Coupe de la Ligue on Tuesday. "It's not important to play a lot, but to play well, and Carrillo has done that."
Watch: Highlights of Monaco's 3-2 win over Troyes!
Falcao and Thomas Lemar - stars persuaded to stay in the summer - came off the bench in the 2-0 win over Caen in midweek. Both should be restored to the starting line up at AS Saint-Etienne, with Carrillo expected to keep his place ahead of Keita Baldé and Stevan Jovetic. Youri Tielemans remains out with a knee injury.
Sainté's travails have been rather more pronounced than their visitors' this season, and they welcome Monaco to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard having failed to win any of their last eight Ligue 1 Conforama games. Third as recently as Week 9, Julien Sablé has struggled to steady Les Verts' ship since replacing Oscar Garcia in November, and they begin the day in 15th, just five points above the automatic drop zone.
Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel was sent off as ASSE were beaten 3-0 by Olympique de Marseille last Sunday, and Sablé - a midfielder at the club for ten years between 1997 and 2007 - was understandably exasperated at his post-match press conference.
Watch: Highlights of Saint-Etienne's 3-0 loss at Marseille
"I cannot accept what I saw tonight," he told the assembled media. "I have never quit; I'm a competitor. What I saw tonight cannot go on. The club is, at this very moment, in danger. It's not our place to be battling against relegation. Good evening."
Sablé's cause is not helped by a raft of injuries and suspensions. Captain Loïc Perrin and last season's top scorer Romain Hamouma remain out with groin and thigh injuries respectively; Ole Selnaes is out until the new year with an ankle complaint, whilst Bryan Dabo and Léo Lacroix sit out through suspension.
Saint-Etienne do at least have Rémy Cabella and Assane Dioussé available again as they go in search for what would be a first win over Monaco since March 2014, when Fabien Lemoine and Hamouma scored in a 2-0 victory.
Saint-Etienne: Ruffier (c); Janko, Théophile-Catherine, M'Bengue, Silva; Pajot, Dioussé; Bamba, Cabella, Monnet-Paquet; Diony
Monaco: Subasic; Sidibé, Glik, Jemerson, Jorge; Lopes, Moutinho, Fabinho, Lemar; Carrillo, Falcao (c)
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