Week 5 review: PSG ready for Liverpool, OM blast into second
By S. Willis
PSG warmed up for their Champions League clash with Liverpool by continuing their perfect start 4-0 versus Saint-Etienne, while Marseille flashed contender credentials as they beat Guingamp by the same scoreline.
Things couldn't be going any better for new Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel, who is now the owner of the best-ever start by a capital-club coach with six wins in his first six competitive outings at the helm - the Trophée des Champions against Monaco and then all five Ligue 1 Conforama matches so far this season, including Friday's 4-0 domination of Saint-Etienne.
Tuchel: 'We are confident'
"I'm very happy with this victory, our sixth in a row since the start of the season. It's important to have several options when we play; today we were without Neymar [rested] and Kylian [Mbappé, suspended] and I'm happy to have used players that were here during the international break," said the German, who is relishing the prospect of facing off against compatriot and Borussia Dortmund predecessor Jürgen Klopp of Liverpool. "It was a good rehearsal, good for the confidence ahead of Tuesday's match in Anfield against Liverpool. It will be a big test for us, but we are confident."
And they have every reason to be so: despite the absence of their two biggest stars, Tuchel's men saw Julian Draxler shine in the front line, Marco Verratti make a solid return to action after injury and youth academy graduate Moussa Diaby cap a brilliant debut with a goal as Les Verts, coached by former PSG assistant boss Jean-Louis Gasset slipped from ninth to 14th.
OM on fire... at times
The reigning Ligue 1 Conforama champions now enjoy a five-point lead atop the table, but perennial rivals Olympique de Marseille have emerged as perhaps their most credible title challengers following a second-half blitz to hammer still-pointless EA Guingamp 4-0 at the Orange Vélodrome on Sunday night.
"Stringing the wins together has taken us to second. Getting there is one thing, but staying there is another," said OM boss Rudi Garcia, for whom France internationals Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet struck spectacular goals to clinch the result - despite a lack-lustre first-half performance - days ahead of their opening UEL clash at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday. "We'll need to stay on our toes, because if we play against Lyon as we did in the first half tonight, we'll come back empty handed, that's obvious. We only played one half tonight."
Pépé makes his mark
Marseille now sit level on ten points along with third-placed LOSC, who had Nicolas Pépé's maiden Ligue 1 Conforama hat-trick to thank for their 3-2 win in Amiens - despite the Ivorian star's not being in top physical shape.
"Nicolas Pépé was actually very much under the weather. He was a doubt right up to the start, but he was very good and created a lot of chances," said LOSC boss Christophe Galtier, evidently keen to keep his - and his team's - feet on the ground after an excellent start to the season. "It's not important that we're second right now. We want to ensure the team isn't in danger of the drop and get ourselves into the top 10 to hopefully finish even higher."
Winless UCL warm-ups for OL, Monaco
Meanwhile Toulouse round out the trio of sides on ten points following their creditable 1-1 draw at home to Monaco, Aaron Leya Iseka cancelling out Youri Tielemans' second in as many matches. Leonardo Jardim's men may have halted a run of consecutive defeats with the draw, but still have just one win to their name this season as they get set to host Atlético de Madrid at the Stade Louis II in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.
Lyon, usually in the top-three conversation or thereabouts, find themselves in seventh place after being held to a 2-2 draw away to nine-man SM Caen days out from their UCLK trip to face EPL juggernaut Manchester City. World Cup winner Nabil Fekir drew first blood with a superb free-kick but a second-half fight-back from the Normandy club meant Ferland Mendy's late strike clinched just one point rather than all three.
After winning their first three of the campaign, Dijon made it back-to-back defeats as they were dominated 3-1 to home to Angers, slipping from second to fifth, while sixth-placed Montpellier saw two precious points slip through their fingers as Strasbourg's Lebo Mothiba headed home deep into injury time.
Nice work, Briand brace for Bordeaux
Patrick Vieira's Nice successfully built on their Week 4 win over Lyon - their first under the World Cup winner - by trumping Rennes 2-1, but it was no walk in the park for the Aiglons. An own-goal from Malang Sarr put them on the back foot but a clinical strike from Pierre Lees-Melou saw them claim all three points at the death, putting them on the brink of the top half of the table while Rennes are left with plnety of questions ahead of their UEL opener at home to Czech outfit FK Jablonec 97 on Thursday.
Bordeaux warmed up for their UEFA Europa League opener away to Slavia Prague on Thursday with a 3-3 draw at home to promoted Nîmes, Jimmy Briand, who bagged a brace, and Nigerian winger Samuel Kalu both opening their Girondins goal-scoring accounts only for last season's Domino's Ligue 2 top scorer Umut Bozok to snatch a point with his first top-flight strike.
FC Nantes stretched their unbeaten run to three matches after playing out a 0-0 draw at home to Reims.