Wissam Ben Yedder sits third in AS Monaco’s list of all-time leading goalscorers yet the France striker is not guaranteed a starting berth for the principality side, who face Clermont Foot 63 away at the Stade Gabriel-Montpied on Sunday.
Clermont Foot 63 – AS Monaco Sunday at 13:00 CET (1200 GMT)
>> LIVE SCORING, STATS AND COMMENTARY
Ben Yedder scored Monaco’s opening goal in their 3-2 win over AJ Auxerre at the Stade Louis II in midweek to take his tally for the club to 90 in 151 appearances since signing from Sevilla in 2019. That put him alone in third in Monaco’s all-time list and if he carries on scoring at this rate he should eventually catch Lucien Cossou, who is second on 115.
Delio Onnis, a great of the 1970s, is surely untouchable on 223 goals but Ben Yedder’s importance to Philippe Clément’s Monaco side is clear. He is their leading marksman this season with 17 goals, including 12 in Ligue 1. Despite that, he is not a guaranteed starter, and certainly not a guaranteed finisher of games.
In midweek Ben Yedder came off in the 65th minute to be replaced by Breel Embolo, with those two currently competing for a starting slot alongside teenage sensation Eliesse Ben Seghir. Ben Yedder may be Clément’s captain when he is on the field but he has not played 90 minutes in a Ligue 1 Uber Eats match since the end of October.
Whoever Clément picks in attack against Clermont, Monaco will be looking to continue their impressive recent league form. They have lost just once in nine, even if they have drawn their last two matches on the road. They ended the midweek round of games in fourth place, four points adrift of the podium, and their push for a return to the Champions League has been fuelled by an attack which has scored 46 goals, a tally bettered only by leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Highlights: Monaco get better of struggling Auxerre
Embolo, with 12 goals, has been an excellent foil for Ben Yedder, especially with Kevin Volland missing much of the campaign due to injury. Ben Seghir, meanwhile, scored his third senior goal against Auxerre and Clément knows he is an exciting prospect.
Clermont’s ‘exceptional’ unbeaten run
“What he does without the ball is really important for the team too. We need to protect him and not go too fast with him in the next few months. Let him grow up just like all the other youngsters here. Developing them is also at the heart of our project,” said the coach.
If Monaco cannot stop scoring, the same cannot be said of Clermont. Their goalless home draw with FC Nantes last weekend did not feature a single attempt on target. There was more entertainment away at LOSC Lille on Wednesday but that match also ended in a 0-0 draw. Pascal Gastien’s side are nevertheless unbeaten in five league outings in 2023 and came into the weekend looking very comfortable in ninth place.
Watch: Clermont denied in Lille
“We have reached the 30-point mark which is a good thing,” the coach said after the Lille match. “We hit the woodwork twice and defended intelligently. We are making progress in that area too. The players want to get as high up the table as possible and so defensive solidity is important.”
Captain Yohann Magnin added: “Five matches without defeat for a club like us is exceptional. We keep putting points on the board going into what is a big month of February for us.”
Ghanaian international Alidu Seidu is sidelined for the visitors with a knee knock. Maxime Gonalons, the former France midfielder, is still missing and Clermont are also set to be without Johan Gastien. Krépin Diatta missed Monaco’s midweek win with a foot problem but could return here.
Clermont: Diaw; Caufriez, Wieteska, Ogier (c); Allevinah, Khaoui, Magnin, Borges; Bela, Cham; Kyei
Monaco: Nübel; Águilar, Disasi (c), Maripan, Jakobs; Diatta, Fofana, Camara, Golovin; Embolo, Minamino>> ITW: AS Monaco's Vanderson - in Fabinho's footsteps