Gourcuff hoping to make up for lost time
FC Lorient and Toulouse FC meet in Brittany on Sunday evening with both teams looking to close the gap on the top five.
FC Lorient - Toulouse FC
Unbeaten in their first eight games of the season, Lorient have crumbled of late. Beaten 6-1 at Valenciennes FC before conceding four in their amazing 4-4 draw with AC Ajaccio, the solidity normally associated with Christian Gourcuff's men has deserted them. Their fine 2-0 defeat of LOSC Lille in Week 13 appeared to have set them back on the rails, but they again strayed from the straight and narrow with a 2-1 loss at SC Bastia last weekend.
Slow starting Lorient
"Above all, it's our start to the game which is infuriating. We started at snail's pace," grumbled Gourcuff, whose men were unable to bring back anything from their trip to Corsica despite the hosts playing with ten men for 78 minutes. "We put ourselves in impossible situations. We're not up to speed away from home. We need more movement. We knew Bastia play a direct style, and we were in trouble every time we lost the ball. We're down to the bare bones in defence, but that's no excuse. It's been a while since we've played well."
With just one win in nine L1 outings - and winless in ten matches in all competitions - it is hard to argue with Gourcuff's stark assessment, and the potential absence of Alain Traoré, who sustained a thigh problem in training in midweek, will hardly brighten the horizon of the Breton club. They do, however, have the comfort of having lost just once at home this season, while Toulouse have returned to the south-west from seven L1 trips to the Stade du Moustoir with all three points on just a single occasion.
Ben Yedder returns
Their recent form has been little better than their hosts', too. Three straight defeats preceded last weekend, though an impressive 3-0 rout of Olympique Lyonnais, the L1 leaders coming into Week 15, does suggest better times are ahead. The game also marked a return to form for Wissam ben Yedder, who struck twice to take his tally in the league this season to nine, second-only to Paris Saint-Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
"It would be easy to say that we knew Ben Yedder would have a great season, but we knew that we had to help him exploit his talent. He played really well, as did the whole team. I really liked their attitude tonight," said coach Alain Casanova, who defended the young forward following the French FA ban recently imposed on him after indiscretions while on international duty with the Under-21 side. "He's a shy boy, almost fragile, as he's only just starting out. He has to be left alone so that he can concentrate on his work and his ability to be productive for the team."
Ben Yedder may well enjoy himself against a Lorient side which has been leaking goals at an alarming rate in recent games. Only ESTAC Troyes and Bastia have conceded more times in the French top flight than Lorient, though they will have powerful centre-back Wesley Lautoa available after a one-match ban. "We're going to come up against a good team, but we know we can beat them at home," said Lautoa. "It's in our own hands. We really want to make up for last weekend. We want to play well and win the game. All three points would allow us to get going again and give us some room to breath."