AS Monaco hope to get back to winning ways against Dijon FCO on Saturday evening, although they are without Islam Slimani against a team who most recently shocked champions Paris Saint-Germain…
AS Monaco - Dijon FCO
Monaco had spent more than half of the season so far in the relegation places after a stuttering start to their 2019/20 Ligue 1 Conforama campaign, but Wissam Ben Yedder - the division's top scorer, and Slimani - its best assister - helped the principality side to a three-match winning run which ended with last Sunday's 1-0 reverse at AS Saint Etienne.
Simani has been missing for the last 190 minutes of football, though, the Leicester City FC-owned Algeria striker pulling up injured in the 80th minute of the principality side's 1-0 win two weeks ago, in which he teed up Ben Yedder's winner.
Slimani could only watch on from the sidelines as Monaco booked their passage to the Coupe de la Ligue last 16 with a 2-1 victory over Olympique de Marseille last Wednesday, before the weekend's loss to ASSE, in which Ruben Aguilar caused a social media storm in kicking a VAR camera following his 92nd-minute sending off.
Watch: Highlights of Monaco's 1-0 loss to Saint-Etienne
"We could easily have been ahead at half-time - all we were missing was a goal," said Monaco midfielder Adrien Silva. "After the break things started to turn against us. We tried to get forward but conceded a goal. That's how it is. We're going to continue our work, which has been very good."
Jean-Kévin Augustin is favourite to partner Ben Yedder in attack on Saturday, the RB-Leipzig owned forward having a similar profile to Slimani, as well as getting off the mark in the cup win against OM.
'A player with quality'
"He hasn't played much in the last few games, but he's a player with quality and physically strong," said the coach, Leonardo Jardim. "He wins a lot, he's not a scorer like Ben Yedder, but with his physique and movement, he can help us score. That's what's expected of an attacker."
Further back, Silva will have neither Cesc Fabregas nor Tiémoué Bakayoko for company in midfield, the former wrestling with a thigh strain, the latter strained ankle ligaments. They join longer-term injury absentees Diego Benaglio and Stevan Jovetic on the sidelines.
Dijon begin the day just one place and three points worse off than their hosts. Stéphane Jobard's men have, like Monaco, occupied the relegation places for much of the campaign, but they pulled out of the relegation places in spectacular fashion last Friday, beating pace-setting PSG 2-1 at the Stade Gaston Gérard.
Watch: Highlights of Dijon's shock 2-1 win over PSG!
They were good for it too. Les Rouges never let their heads go down following Kylian Mbappé's opener, with Mounir Chouiar and Jhonder Cadiz scoring to deliver a first-ever top flight win for the Côte d'Or club over the Parisian giants.
"I'm happy for my players because they were rewarded for their efforts," said an understandably delighted Jobard at his post-match press conference. "We also needed a bit of luck. PSG hit the woodwork three times. But it's a great chapter in the club's history, and it proves we belong in Ligue 1. I'm convinced of my players' mental strength. We scored at key times, at the end of the first half and beginning of the second."
Jobard is likely to start with the same 4-4-2 formation that so frustrated PSG, although two of his regular back four - Mickaël Alphonse and Nayef Aguerd - are missing with a gluteal strain and ankle ligament damage respectively, while promising 18-year-old midfielder Enzo Loiodice has a thigh strain.
Monaco: Lecomte; Jemerson, Glik, Badiashile; Martins, Henrichs, Silva, Golovin, Ballo-Touré; Ben Yedder, Augustin
Dijon: Gomis; Chafik, Ecuele Manga, Coulibaly, Mendyl; Baldé, Lautoa, Ndong, Chouiar; Tavares, Cadiz