Ligue 1 Tips: Monaco the smart pick at Lyon

Niko Kovac's Principality outfit are well-placed to pick up at least a point in Sunday night's potentially enthralling clash, writes James Eastham...

Goals at both ends the canny choice

Lorient vs Marseille (17th vs 6th)
Saturday, 16:00 BST
Live on BT Sport Extra 2 and Betfair Live Video

Lorient have been involved in a high number of high-scoring games so far this season and goals are again the likely outcome when they host Marseille on Saturday afternoon.

The bulk of Lorient's incoming transfers during the most recent window focused on strengthening their attack as they prepared for life in the top flight following promotion from Ligue 2: strikers Adrian Grbic and Terem Moffi and wingers Quentin Boisgard, Stephane Diarra and Armand Lauriente arrived for a cumulative fee of £22 million, providing competition for incumbents Pierre-Yves Hamel (pictured below) and Yoane Wissa (whose pace has made him such a threat this season).

Defensively Lorient have come up short and it will take more than the belated arrival of centre-back Andrew Gravillon on loan from Inter to improve the Bretons' play in their own half of the field. The stats bear out the side's imbalance: Lorient are the division's fifth highest scorers but have the joint-worst defensive record; five of their seven matches have had Over 2.5 Goals; they've conceded in all seven of their games to date; and those matches have averaged 3.71 goals each.

Yet Lorient go into this weekend's clash boosted by their 3-1 comeback win at Reims last weekend and, while Marseille may be considerably higher than Lorient in the table, the visitors are still finding their feet defensively: Andre Villas Boas' men have conceded in six of seven games to date, a weakness that Lorient are capable of exploiting.

'Yes' in the Both Teams to Score? market and Over 2.5 Goals are the selections to consider. The first is available at 1.85, the second at 2.1.

Expect thrills and spills in Brest

Brest vs Strasbourg (13th vs 18th)
Sunday, 14:00 GMT
Live on Betfair Live Video

Brest's clash with Strasbourg promises to be one of the French top flight's most entertaining games this weekend and is another match where high goals is the main selection.

Brest's games have contained thrills and spills at both ends of the pitch and this is reflected in the statistics: their matches have averaged 3.71 goals a game, with five of their seven fixtures featuring Over 2.5 Goals, and Brest conceding in all seven matches.

Strasbourg's seven matches have averaged 3.14 goals a game, with four of their seven featuring Over 2.5 Goals and Strasbourg conceding in six of those seven fixtures. Strasbourg have defended so badly they'll go into this fixture knowing that their attacking prowess marks their best chance of picking up points.

Strasbourg have serious momentum, too: last weekend they were 3-1 down at home to Lyon at half-time but scored a second goal early in the second-half and came close to claiming an equaliser before eventually - and a little unluckily - losing 3-2.

If Strasbourg play with the same verve and spirit as they did during the second 45 minutes a week ago we should see a game where both teams have notable spells of playing on the front foot and where defenders on either side are pressurised into making the sort of mistakes they've already committed this season. Over 2.5 Goals, available around evens, is the selection.

Underrated Monaco too good to ignore

Lyon vs Monaco (9th vs 8th)
Sun, 20:00 GMT
Live on BT Sport 1 and Betfair Live Video

Lyon are odds-on (1.7) to beat Monaco at the Groupama Stadium on Sunday night but there's no reason why the short price on Rudi Garcia's hosts is justified.

Lyon have picked up 10 points from their opening seven games (W2-D4-L1) and their performances have merely cemented the view that the team's currently less than the sum of its parts. Lyon's only two victories came against sides currently 18th (Strasbourg) and 20th (Dijon) in the table while OL have dropped points against everyone else they've faced.

Monaco have one more point than Lyon (11) and the team taking shape under new manager Niko Kovac and new sporting director Paul Mitchell ought to improve considerably on last season's ninth-place finish. Central defenders Axel Disasi and Benoit Badiashile provide considerable aerial power in the two penalty areas, while Kevin Volland, a £14 million signing from Bayer Leverkusen last month, looks an ideal foil for last season's 18-goal top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder, who has four in five in 2020-21.

With a close game likely, supporting Monaco makes sense. Lay Lyon at 1.72, or back Monaco with a +0.5&+1.0 Asian Handicap start at 2.1. With the second selection, you'll lose only half your stakes if Monaco lose by a single goal and make a profit if Monaco avoid defeat.

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