Rampant Monaco wary of Lorient
By A. Scott
AS Monaco are in rampant form but the principality club are mindful of the fact they have not won at home to FC Lorient in either of the last two seasons as the sides prepare to meet at the Stade Louis II on Sunday.
AS Monaco - FC Lorient
>> LIVE SCORING AND STATISTICS FROM 15:00 CET ON SUNDAY
Monaco went back to the top of the Ligue 1 table for the first time since mid-September as they romped to a 4-1 win at Olympique de Marseille last weekend with Bernardo Silva netting twice after Thomas Lemar and Radamel Falcao had earlier scored at the Orange Vélodrome. That allowed them to leapfrog OGC Nice on goal difference.
Leonardo Jardim's side - who have Adama Traoré and Nabil Dirar away at the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon - have lost only one of their last 11 league games and have only been beaten once in 18 home outings in all competitions this season, while their statistics in front of goal continue to be mind-blowing.
The win over Marseille was the eighth time in 20 league matches this season in which Monaco have scored at least four goals, a quite remarkable record. They have scored 60 goals altogether, an average of three per game, but Lorient should not be underestimated.
Watch: Monaco run riot against OM
After all, the Bretons have won this fixture in each of the last two campaigns, including a 3-2 victory in September 2015.
"We are expecting a really tricky match against Lorient. The coach has reminded us that in the last two seasons we have not beaten them at home," Brazilian defender Jemerson told the club's website.
"I hope it will be different this time. Now that we are top of the table everyone is going to want to knock us off our perch. The hardest part is just beginning. The hardest thing is not getting to the top, it is staying there. We just have to take things one game at a time and remain focused."
The match will set Monaco up for a huge few weeks in their season, with a Coupe de la Ligue semi-final at home to AS Nancy Lorraine to come in midweek before a trip to Paris Saint-Germain. Nice pay a visit in the derby after that, while a UEFA Champions League trip to Manchester City is now only a month away.
Ahead of that key run, and after picking up an award for the Côte d'Azur's sportsman of the year, Valère Germain had a word of caution for his teammates.
"We are having a great season, but it would be superb if we managed to win a trophy at the end. If at the end of the season we don't win anything, nobody will remember this team in 10 or 15 years. We have a lot of quality in this squad and we all want to make history," he said.
Monaco won 3-0 away in Lorient in the reverse fixture in November and the Bretons remain in the relegation zone, where they have sat since the start of October. However, there has been a gradual improvement recently under Bernard Casoni and Lorient have enjoyed an excellent start to 2017.
Les Merlus began the new year by knocking Nice out of the Coupe de France and they then came from behind to beat EA Guingamp 3-1 in a Brittany derby last time out, with Majeed Waris scoring twice either side of a Jimmy Cabot goal.
Watch: Lorient come back to win Brittany derby
"We know that Monaco are strong in every area. We are certainly going to suffer but why not surprise them. They have enormous amounts of quality and we need to make sure we don't open up," Cabot said in an interview with the club's website.
Lorient are without Cameroon's Benjamin Moukandjo and Senegal defender Zargo Touré, who are at the Cup of Nations. However, centre-back Mathieu Peybernes made his bow against Guingamp last weekend after joining from SC Bastia, while Ghanaian midfielder Alhassan Wakaso was an unused substitute in that game following his arrival from Rio Ave in Portugal.
Monaco: (To follow)
Lorient: (To follow)