Olympique de Marseille will look to Florian Thauvin to help snap them out of a dip in form when they play host to FC Metz on Saturday (kick-off 9pm CEST/7pm GMT).
Last season's runners-up opened the new season with two wins from two, including a 1-0 victory at Paris Saint-Germain thanks to a Thauvin goal. The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner had also been instrumental in his club's opening-game win at Stade Brestois 29, having a hand in all three goals in a 3-2 triumph.
Since, however, Thauvin has been held in check as AS Saint-Étienne inflicted a first defeat of the campaign on Andre Villas-Boas' men and LOSC Lille would have made it back-to-back losses but for Valère Germain's late equaliser last weekend.
"We lost too many balls, that's something I want to improve," said Villas-Boas after seeing Germain come off the bench to replace Thauvin 19 minutes from time and cancel out Luis Araujo's strike for the visitors.
WATCH: Germain snatches Marseille a point against Lille
"We'll need some time to improve our play, but it's a good point. Now, victory is mandatory against Metz. We'll need a little more pride, there will be things to improve."
Thauvin has been involved in six goals in his last two Ligue 1 Uber Eats against Metz, and after playing just 20 minutes last season due to an ankle injury, appears to be getting back to somewhere near his best.
Captain Steve Mandanda has already hit the ground running this season, maintaining the impressive momentum he built up in the 2019-20 campaign. Without a clutch of saves from the France international, OM would almost certainly have lost against Lille.
Villas-Boas: 'We have to improve'
"Perhaps, but I'm not necessarily as negative," countered Villas-Boas. "He played well, but in the first half, the game was tactically interesting. We misplaced a number of passes in our build-up. We have to improve in that area."
The former Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Zenit St. Petersburg coach is also working on strengthening his squad with young Brazilian forward Luis Henrique poised to join from Botafogo. Metz remain in transfer window limbo, however, with the Lorraine club fully expecting Habib Diallo to leave before the 5 October deadline.
The Senegal striker, who hit 12 goals last season, watched from the bench as his compatriot and ready-made replacement Ibrahima Niane scored both goals to help Metz pick up their first points of the campaign with a 2-1 win over Stade de Reims last weekend.
WATCH: Niane's double against Reims gives Metz first points
Niane opened the scoring in the first half and then grabbed a winner two minutes from time against the side that finished sixth last season, ending a 287-minute top-flight goal drought at the expense of the club with the best defensive record in 2019/20.
"I never doubted myself. You work and you're certain it'll pay off one day," explained Niane, who — like Diallo, Sadio Mané and Ismaïla Sarr — joined Metz from the Generation Foot academy in Dakar.
"We needed the win. It's a relief, because we had a very difficult start to the season. Each time, we'd lost games in the closing minutes, it was tough. Now, we've got our confidence back, it's good for everyone. We're going to keep working because it's only the start.
"We won't get carried away, but we'll stay positive. We know it's possible, in spite of our three defeats. We're united, we're committed, and we get on well. That's the team's strength."
Marseille: Mandanda (c) - Sakai, Alvaro, Caleta-Car, Nagatomo - Sanson, Kamara, Rongier - Thauvin, Benedetto, Payet
Metz: Oukidja - Centonze, Bronn, Boye (c), Udol - Angban, Maïga, Pajot - Nguette, Niane, Boulaya