Lyon turn to Depay to bring down Metz
By I. Holyman
Olympique Lyonnais will hope Memphis Depay can continue his resurgence when they take on rudderless FC Metz on Sunday.
Olympique Lyonnais - FC Metz
The five goals and seven assists the January signing from Manchester United registered in just 12 Ligue 1 Conforama starts last season, including the Goal of the Season against Toulouse FC, suggested he would hit the ground running come the new campaign.
Instead, the highly-gifted Netherlands international stumbled into the season, sometimes finding himself on the bench and even missing out on the Week 7 encounter with Dijon FCO completely.
In two top-flight starts since, Depay has netted four goals, including a brilliant hat-trick in last Sunday's 5-0 win at Troyes that took Lyon into fourth place in the table, leaving Bruno Genesio delighted with his player's progress.
"I don't know if I shook him up, but I've had some good discussions with him," revealed the Lyon boss, whose team moved into fourth with their resounding victory in the Champagne region.
WATCH: Memphis Depay's Goal of the 2016-17 Season
"Lately he's sometimes been left out of the squad, sometimes on the bench, and I think that's been beneficial for him. He has asked questions of himself and it's true that in training he's a different player to the one we saw at the start of the season."
Genesio added: "I'm happy he was rewarded with three goals, which is very important for a forward, but I'm also happy about his involvement in play, the structure of the team with him. He has looked very promising and he has to continue like that."
Depay's emphatic return to form has helped Lyon extend an unbeaten run in all competitions to six matches, including wins in each of their last three. History dictates they will prolong that happy streak at Parc OL on Sunday with Metz having failed to score on their last six league trips to Lyon, losing each game. Indeed, they lost 5-0 there last season in a game in which Depay scored his first two goals in a Lyon shirt.
If the past were the visitors' only problem, they would perhaps see some room for optimism. That, however, is a commodity in desperately short supply at the club that is currently propping up the French top flight, already six points adrift of safety.
Having opened the season with five straight defeats, Metz have lost their last four league outings, including the Week 10 home defeat to Dijon that cost Philippe Hinschberger his job last weekend.
WATCH: Memphis claims a hat-trick in Troyes
The mood was lightened, however, by the 1-0 Coupe de la Ligue triumph over third-tier outfit Red Star FC in midweek that gave interim coach José Pinot some cheer.
"At this moment in time, we can't take any win for granted," said Pinot, who has temporarily moved up from his role as Metz's reserve team coach, after seeing Matthieu Dossevi send his side into the Round of 16. "It wasn't a game we controlled, but I liked certain reactions, the overall attitude. I thought the boys looked promising.
"Not everything was perfect, but it does us good. At times, we showed a great ability to defend well. We're still recovering, but there was a little bit more joy in the dressing room afterwards. We still have to up our game."
Lyon: Lopes; Tete, Marcelo, Morel, Mendy; Tousart, Aouar; Traoré, Fekir, Depay, Mariano
Metz: Didillon; Balliu, Philipps, Niakhaté, Assou-Ekotto; Cohade, Poblete, Cafu; Dossevi, Roux, Nguette