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Monaco won't look back in Angers

Publish on 28/02/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS

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AS Monaco have been in electric form since Leonardo Jardim returned to the dugout, winning three of their last four games, and the coach wants them to "play with the best teams in France," with Angers up next.

Angers SCO - AS Monaco 

Monaco begin the day in 16th, four places and eight points worse off than Saturday's hosts, but having occupied the relegation zone for 18 weeks before Jardim's second spell at the club, their improvement has been marked.

Magnificent Martins 

Last Sunday's 2-0 win over European aspirants Olympique Lyonnais was something of a litmus test for how far the principality side have come, and they didn't disappoint. Gelson Martins, on loan from Atletico Madrid, scored for the third consecutive game as Les Gones were dispatched with little fuss.

"It was very important to win as we need all the points we can get," said Jardim. "Against a top-quality side, who've shown their quality this season against the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, we had a great attitude but also played some great football."

Confidence is returning to the side, with a skilful pass by Cesc Fabregas going down particularly well on social media, and, notably, with his former Chelsea supporters.

Jemerson out

Brazil centre-back Jemerson is suspended and Stevan Jovetic remains sidelined with a knee ligament injury, but even Monaco's absentee list is beginning to look healthier. Europe may be out of reach, but the threat of relegation already feels like a distant memory.

"When I signed with the club, the plan was to play on a par with the best teams in France for the remaining 16 matches of the season," explained Jardim. "We've done it over four matches so far, but we need to keep it up."

Angers are unlikely to lie down on Saturday. Les Scoïstes won the reverse fixture 1-0, and they had been on a three-game winning streak before being edged 1-0 by EA Guingamp last Saturday.

'Matched them, tactically'

"It's cruel, because overall, I think that we controlled our opponents well," lamented Jardim's opposite number, Stéphane Moulin. "We didn't play all that well technically. But tactically, in the way we defended, we at least matched them."

Angers are without Pierrick Capelle and Wilfried Kanga, who have foot and groin injuries respectively. Stéphane Bahoken, who scored the winner against Monaco in September, is likely to lead the line despite having been subbed off for Christian Lopez against Guingamp.

Probable teams

Angers: Butelle – A.Bamba, I.Traoré (cap.), Pavlovic, Thomas, Manceau – Reine-Adélaïde, C.Ndoye, Santamaria, Tait – Bahoken

Monaco: Subasic – D.Sidibé, Glik, B.Badiashile, Ballo-Touré – A.Silva, Fabregas – G.Martins, Golovin, R.Lopes – Falcao (cap.)