Ligue 1 Betting: Ben Yedder the man to fire Monaco to victory
After six winners from his last eight Ligue 1 predictions, James Eastham picks out the smart selections across the latest round of action in France's top flight..
Visitors to show their class
Nimes vs Monaco (19th vs 13th) Sat, 19:00 GMT Live on Betfair Live Video
The first few weeks of new manager Roberto Moreno's reign at Monaco have been blighted by inconsistency but the ex-Spain boss stands an excellent chance of guiding his side to victory against struggling Nimes at Stade des Costieres on Saturday night.
Under Moreno, Monaco's record is W2-D1-L3 in all competitions, but the two wins came in the French Cup rather than in Ligue 1, the first (2-1 vs Reims) after an unconvincing performance and the second away to amateur opposition (3-1 vs St Pryve).
Monaco are W0-D1-L2 in Ligue 1 - and while they have the excuse that two of those three matches were against runaway leaders PSG, there were no such mitigating factors as they crashed to a 3-1 home defeat to Strasbourg last weekend. This game, however, hands Monaco a great opportunity to secure their first league win under their new boss.
Monaco have the talent to run amok against a Nimes side that have had all sorts of problem all season long: Bernard Blaquart's hosts have lost eight of their last 10 games in all competitions, continue to suffer from the fact that their team was fatally weakened during last season's transfer window, and will be without at least one key player, with centre-back Anthony Briancon injured.
Monaco's clearest trait since Moreno took over is strong attacking play: Gelson Martins, Keita Balde and 14-goal Ligue 1 top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder have all done well and and will be keen to impress once again. Ben Yedder has particular reason to be motivated: with Olivier Giroud still at Chelsea at the time of writing, rather than having secured the move away from Stamford Bridge he craves, the 29-year-old ex-Sevilla front man now stands a genuine chance of emerging as France's no.1 striker ahead of the Euro 2020 finals.
Monaco are odds-on to win, but don't let that put you off. The difference in class between these two sides is considerable, as the 14-point gap that separates the pair suggests. Monaco are one of the weekend's smartest selections.
Puel's players set to triumph again
Metz vs St Etienne (16th vs 15th) Sun, 16:00 GMT Live on BT Sport 3 and Betfair Live Video
St Etienne's inconsistency has infuriated their fans this season but Verts supporters making the 550km trip to Metz for this game on Sunday afternoon should end up celebrating an away win, or draw at the very least.
There have been clear signs of improvement from St Etienne since mid-January, with Claude Puel (pictured above) leading his players to three straight victories in their last three matches in all competitions. St Etienne ran out 3-2 winners away to Paris FC in the French Cup on January 18, beat Nimes 2-1 in Ligue 1 last weekend and reached the last eight of the French Cup with an impressive 1-0 win at Monaco on Tuesday night.
Puel has 'flattened' the squad - i.e. given all the outfield players an equal chance of claiming a place in the starting line-up - a decision that has not come without problems. Yet the democratisation of the squad has brought out the best in some fringe and younger players, who have relished the opportunity to show what they can do.
Given St Etienne's potential and recent improvement it's a surprise to find they're 3.10 underdogs away to Metz this weekend (the hosts are 2.74, The Draw is 3.00). Metz are five points behind St Etienne in the Ligue 1 standings, and their home record is an unimpressive W3-D4-L3. In 11-goal top scorer Habib Diallo they have one of the stars of the season - the 24-year-old Senegal international is surely set for a bigger club in the summer - but are moderate in all other areas of the pitch and will struggle to win.
The big price on St Etienne throws up the opportunity to back the visitors on the Draw No Bet market. With this selection, you'll make a profit if St Etienne win, and get your stakes back if the game ends in a draw.