Friday, November 12, 2010

FRIDAY ......



Few would have picked this out as a promotion "six pointer" a few weeks ago, at that time, Evian had seemingly lost their way after a very strong start Ligue 2 life following promotion last season and Le Mans were struggling, especially on home soil, where they went four opening games without a win, but with both sides unbeaten in seven starts and lying in second and fourth spot respectively, that is exactly what this has become.

For the visitors, this season has gone about as well as they could have hoped, pretty sure that they would have seen a lower mid table finish as great success and if they had not been so hard hit by injury a month or so into the season and thereafter unable to rotate the squad too much, they could even have a few more points on board. There have been a few blips along the way, like the 5-1 thumping at Dijon, but basically they have performed with great credit, not feared anyone and especially on the road, where they have scored in their last ten starts, taken the game to their opponents, a very rare event in Ligue 2. They have both scored and conceded in 7 of their last 9 outings and away from home, their games have averaged 3.14 goals, over a goal per game above the division average. They are very unlikely to sit back tonight and with two attack minded inform teams there seem sure to be goals.

Young home coach Arnaud Cormier has a very talented crop of players at his disposal, with a perfect mixture of youth and experience, they are looking to book a speedy return to Ligue 1 after relegation last season and after a sluggish start, they are starting to crank up through the gears and show their quality. They will be looking to take all three points this evening, which might well see them go top and with a break for the cup next week, that is a big incentive. Their is some real quality (for Ligue 2) here, including Frederic Thomas who has 300 starts in midfield under his belt, most at the highest level and two international strikers at opposite ends of their career. Ronald Lamah is a very promising 22yo who already has a handful of appearances for Belgium and alongside him is 33yo Thorstein Helstad, who has just earned a recall to his national team, after a couple of MOTM performances for his club. Helstad made his name at Brann, with 89 goals in 147 appearances, is vastly experienced and a real handful.

Le Mans were a bit unlucky to be relegated last year, after yo-yoing between the top two divisions in the early part of the millenium, they looked to have established themselves in the top flight, with four fairly eventless seasons, before losing their way after Christmas and a coaching merry go round, with four changes at the top, did not help. Now they have some stability at the helm and it is paying off. I expect them to go up, probably as champions and see them as likely winners tonight, but much prefer the "over" option, with both teams likely to score.

"over" 2.25 goals 2.12

Good Luck.

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