Thursday, August 08, 2013

Friday August 2nd clubgowi newsletter #1

Friday August 2nd

Follow up email @ the earlier time of 15.00 (UK) looking at the Saturday morning J-League fixtures and I will also update the schedule for the rest of the weekend at that time.

French Ligue 2:

Of the 12 teams in action today who played in Ligue 2 last season, Nimes 33 points, Le Havre 32, Dijon 31 and Caen 30 collected the most points over the second half of the campaign, Chateauroux with 21 and Istres with a woeful 15, the fewest.

Looking at the last ten matches, that pair again came bottom of the pile with an average of extactly one point each per start, Le Havre were far and away the best with 1.9 points per game.

Don't expect a goal fest today, last season was high scoring by Ligue 2 standards, but opening day is traditionally tight, the 50 matches over the last five seasons have averaged exactly 2.0 goals, with 20 of those producing one or fewer goals.

Just two selections today, given the likely lack of goals, I only wanted to bet with the draw no bet option/ handicap starts and we will know an awful lot more after this opening round.

Both my selections have been drifting on the asian lines this morning, that doesn't worry me, but I know some of you do not like to oppose "the money", so wanted to mention it.

Arles-Le Havre

Looking at those end of season returns, it is obvious that Le Havre ended their campaign on a real high, I had been championing them for many weeks and highlighted them several times to do well this season. The last time we discussed them was on May 25th the final day of the season, when they played at ....... Arles, so a very quick return there , whilst that was effectively a friendly, with neither having anything to play for, it was only ten weeks ago and so the notes for that game bear repeating.....

Regular readers know I expect the visitors to have a big run at Ligue 1 next season, they have shown us glimpses of real potential this time round and I like the way they have shown far more attacking intent on the road, with HAC being traditionally a real old fashioned Ligue 2 outfit, very strong at home and always happy to settle for a point in away starts. They have not really got fair reward from this approach, at least in the early part of the campaign, but they have stuck with it and are unbeaten in four away games, winning three and scoring eight goals in the process, their 1-0 win at Nimes in that sequence was painful, as we were on the hosts, but that was a very impressive performance against a "hungry" home team and they do not look the kind of team to just "give up" on a meaningless match, which of course this is. They have had nothing to play for since mid March, but were unbeaten in eight, before last week's home defeat to Laval, who are fighting for survival. That might signal the end of their resistance, but I am not so sure, they have only lost two in a row once this season and bounced back from their previous three home defeats to take seven points from their next three away starts, two wins and a 3-3 draw at promoted Guingamp. I expect coach Erick Mombaerts to be looking for a similar response from his players this evening, he will be without goalkeeper Zacharie Boucher (29 appearances- 35 goals conceded), fringe striker Fodé Koïta (22-3-1) and Cyriaque Louvion (19-0-0 .... only 4 starts in 2013), but at this stage of the season, team news is not overly important, attitude and desire has far greater impact.

Arles have been battling the drop for most of the season, but finally secured safety last week with a 3-2 win at Dijon ( Raphael Caceres hat-trick) and can relax and enjoy the game. Their supporters have had a very tough time of things, just 14 home wins in the last three seasons and only 18 goals and six wins from the last 23, the hosts would surely like to send them off for the Summer with a spring in their step and I suspect Caceres will be looking for another big evening.

That ended 1-1, the hosts taking an early lead and HAC equalising ten minutes or so from the end. Over the summer Arles have lost defensive midfielder Romain Rocchi (33-6-3 last season) and centre back Bakary Soro (32-0-1), plus a whole host of on loan/fringe players, they look very short at the back and in midfield and we can expect them to get busy in the loan markets in the coming weeks. Le Havre lost hugely promising young full back Benjamin Mendy to Marseille, but got a nice fat fee and added centre back Florian Pinteaux from Monaco (29-0-1 with Sedan last season), right winger Mickaël Le Bihan (36-7-2) from Sedan.... to score seven goals from out wide in a relegated team and he was playing right back on occasion, was impressive , defensive midfielder Romain Saïss (31-0-3) from Clermont and made the on loan signing of Zargo Touré (36-0-0) permanent. They also took several promising youngsters on loan and they have incredible options through the team, with a number of players able to play in more than one position.
Upfront, Yohann Riviere (34-13-6),  Geoffrey Malfleury (31-7-1), Riyad Mahrez (34-4-6) and Walid Mesloub (37-8-4) give them a lot of goal threat and with Le Bihan on the right and unknown futsal player Moussa Sao being given a two year contract and the number 9 shirt (!) after a trial, there is also huge competition for places and HAC look the real deal.  First round is always a bit of an unknown, but I do not think we will get level ball and odds against too often for HAC this season and I have to take it.  Sao has made the squad btw and I am very interested to see him and the potentially exciting visitors. Winger Téji Savanier (27-2-2) is injured for the hosts,  1.5 units Le Havre level ball 2.25 asian line/Ibramarket.

Angers :Butelle - Yattara - Cantini - Quintin - Abdelhamid - Fortes - Gigot - N'Diaye - Plessis - Cardy - Sangaré - Ben Saada - Mendes - Cacérès - Dalé -  Delclos

Le Havre :Boucher – Pontdemé – Louvion – Mombris – Le Marchand – Touré – Rivierez – Saïss – Zola – Fontaine – Bonnet – Mahrez – Mesloub – Le Bihan – Rivière – Sao

Istres- Angers

Hosts operate on a shoestring budget and have done wonders to stay in Ligue 2 for four seasons, they started 2012-13 well and were 3rd after 14 matches with 24 points (7-3-4) , just as well, as they only collected another 19 from 24 starts and managed to narrowly escape relegation. Their budget which was already skinny was clipped by about 11% heading into last season and with meagre crowds and limited backing, it is hard to see how things will be much better this time round. They have lost a number of key players including favourite son Nassim Akrour, but he was pushing 40 yo, which is too old to be leading the front line, also gone are midfielder Kévin Bru (31-2-5.... Istres did not win in the seven games he missed last season and failed to score in five), hugely experienced centre back Éric Chelle (25-1-0) and striker Yahia Cherif (32-5-0). On loan winger Ludovic Genest (29-3-2) who had three goals and an assist in those sole four wins in the last 24 games, has also left. As you might expect, new signings have been firmly low key and within those tight budgetary restraints, but they did show a little original thinking with the addition of two 20 year olds from the Fluminense B team and one, Rafael Assis, has made the squad today, so, some interest there.

Angers have been top seven in four of the last five years and were top three last season with six rounds to play and are targeting another push at a promotion spot.  They have lost Claudiu Keserü ( 30-17-2) which is obviously a huge loss and Férébory Doré (34-3-6) has also left, they had already signed Khaled Ayari (14-4-0 ) in the January transfer window to play in that secondary striker role and were pleased with him, so the loss of Doré should have less impact. Experienced striker Jérémy Blayac ( 21-6-1 for Tours lasts season in an injury hit campaign, he scored nine the previous season) has joined and with playmaker Alharbi El Jadeyaoui (34-4-10) who had the most Ligue 2 assists last season still at the club, he will get a lot of chances to add to that tally this season. They also signed left winger Ludovic Gamboa (29-9-5) from Laval and I am very keen on him, to contribute to 14 goals in a team who only missed relegation by two points, from just 29 starts, is an incredible return. Despite the loss of Keserü, I like this Angers team, especially if they keep El Jadeyaoui, who I understand is being courted by a couple of clubs. However, that need not worry us today, as he is in the squad, if they did keep him and Blayac had an injury free, or largely injury free campaign, the 30 yo striker could have a huge year. Three of last year's top 4 Ligue 2 strikers were with promoted clubs and something similar to Keserü's tally could win the top goalscorer award this time round. They look solid today with the handicap start. 1.5 units Angers +0.25 ball 1.96 asian line/Ibramarket.

Istres: Petric, Lejeune, Sainati, Chafik, Doumbia, Barillon, Bocognano, Bosqui, Ba, Leroy, Tardieu, Boulaya, Dabo, Allart, Niangbo, Rafael Assis.

Angers: : Alexandre Letellier, Grégory Malicki, Arnold Bouka Moutou, Jérémy Henin, Djibril Konate, Romain Thomas, Sofiane Boufal, Charles Diers, Alharbi El Jadeyaoui, Rayan Frikeche, Ludovic Gamboa, Diego Gomez, Ismaël Keita, Vincent Manceau, Khaled Ayari, Jérémy Blayac.

Good Luck.

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