Monaco will look to captain Wissam ben Yedder to help them beat struggling Saint-Etienne on Wednesday and move the principality club up the Ligue 1 Uber Eats table.
MONACO - ST ETIENNE (kick-off 7pm CEST)
Monaco finished third last season and were tipped to be among the contenders for at least a top-three place come the end of the 2021/22 campaign. But the 2016/17 French champions have started slowly and come into the midweek round of matches with just five points from six games, and are eight points behind second-placed Marseille.
Ben Yedder hit the net 20 times in the top flight last season, and after getting this term's account open with a penalty in the 2-2 derby draw with Nice on Sunday, the France international forward will hope to add to his tally at the Stade Louis II.
Despite his team's poor position in the table, coach Niko Kovac believes they are not too far from away enjoying a reversal of fortunes.
"For me, football is all about details and for the moment, a lot of details are going against us: sometimes it's a pass, another time it's someone's touch…we're working on it," said the ex-Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt coach. "It never goes for us, but in football — like in life — things change quickly.
WATCH: Monaco battle to derby draw in Nice
"I told the players I was happy because they are battling. We're not playing the football we played last season, we're using more energy to draw or win, but we're fighting. And when you work hard, you're always rewarded."
Kovac could name an unchanged line-up with Guillermo Maripan having shaken off the hamstring injury that handicapped him against Nice.
Saint-Etienne find themselves second-from-bottom of the table with just three points from their opening six matches, the record French champions' worst start since 1988/99. Yvan Maçon misses the game in the principality with a calf strain as Claude Puel's men aim to bounce back from Saturday's disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Bordeaux.
"When you come away from a game like that, there's frustration because of the result, but an objecitve analysis enables you to see what was good and what must be improved," said Puel, whose side endured a torrential second-half downpour that rendered much of the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard's playing surface treacherous.
"When the pitch was playable, we showed quality and some good situations. We controlled the rhythm of the game, but we must make the most of our good spells. We know we've got work to do in that area. We manage to cause all our opponents problems, now we have to see things through."
Monaco: Nübel; Maripan, Pavlovic, Disasi; Henrique, Tchouaméni, Fofana, Aguilar; Golovin, Ben Yedder, Gelson Martins.
Saint-Etienne: Green; Kolodziejczak, Nadé, Moukoudi, Camara; Gourna-Douath, Neyou; Hamouma, Khazri, Bouanga; Ramirez.