ASSE look for snap against Crocodiles
By D. Crossan
Jean-Louis Gasset is expecting a tough game when he takes his Saint-Etienne side to promoted Nîmes on Friday evening in Ligue 1 Conforama.
Nîmes may not have won since Week 2 of the season, while Saint-Etienne have taken ten points from their last five league outings to sit sixth in the table, yet Gasset is aware that a trip to Les Crocodiles is no present.
Gasset said: "This trip has a special flavour and the players need to know what sort of atmosphere they'll be playing in. Nîmes rivalled PSG and they beat Marseille, and that's not nothing. It will be tough. Nîmes is football territory and I'm happy to see them back in Ligue 1. There are cities and stadiums that smell of football and that's the case with Nîmes."
Gasset wants more
Even though Les Verts are currently on course to beat last season's seventh-placed finish, former France assistant coach Gasset is far from satisfied with his charges and has challenged them to do better. The 64-year-old said: "I've got the impression we're slumbering still. Everybody needs to put more effort in, especially when we don't have the ball. We need to be more aggressive and defend higher up the pitch."
Gabriel Silva and Romain Hamouma are out, while centre-half Neven Subotic is doubtful with a groin problem suffered in the fortuitous 1-1 draw at home to Rennes last weekend. While Wahbi Khazri is flying at the moment - the Tunisian international has scored four times in his last four Ligue 1 Conforama games - Gasset expects more from the likes of Rémy Cabella and Yannis Salibur.
Gasset commented: "Rémy played a poor game against Rennes. He knows that. Rémy's a lad you have to love and the fans aren't wrong in giving him adulation. He can irritate sometimes, but he always wants to contribute something. Yannis is a cyclical player and what I expect from him is a bit more when it comes to dribbles, shooting from range and free-kicks."
Nîmes without a goal in four games
Nîmes haven't won any of their last 17 top division matches against Saint-Etienne since a 2-0 home win in October 1975 and Bernard Blaquart's side are having a tough time of it at the moment, having failed to score in any of their last four league games. They had plenty of shots against Lyon last Friday - with Téji Savanier particularly influential on his return from suspension - yet still failed to notch.
Blaquart said: "We play to try to win games. We attack a lot but that's four games in a row in which we've failed to score. In order to score we need to keep attacking. We'll keep trying in order to try to get back on the goal trail."
Moustapha Diallo, the experienced midfielder, may be forced into retirement by a persistent ankle problem. Hervé Lybohy, the defender, is out with a groin problem and fellow rearguard man Fethi Harek is absent with a calf complaint. Striker Baptiste Guillaume and centre-half Loïc Landre are available again after suspension.
Nîmes: (to follow)
Saint-Etienne: (to follow)