Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 26th 2014 Contents A53
Friday, September 26, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
PARIS---Having put its campaign back on track with
a first away win that took some pressure off coach
Laurent Blanc, defending champion Paris Saint-Ger-
main will be putting its unbeaten record to the test at
PSG, the only unbeaten team in the French league
after Lille was dealt a first defeat by Nice midweek, can
pull level with leader Marseille with a win. Marcelo
Bielsa s team looks unstoppable, though, and is aiming
for a sixth consecutive win against in-form Saint-Eti-
Here are some things to know about the French league
before this weekend s matches:
The real derby
Known as "Le Classique", the match between Paris
Saint-Germain and Marseille became popular during
the 1990 s when the arrival of prominent stars such as
Rudi Voeller and George Weah in France ignited a strong
rivalry between the sides.
But the real French derby pits together Saint-Etienne
and Marseille, the two most decorated clubs in French
Saint-Etienne---which has ten league titles to its name,
one more than Marseille---dominated French football
during the 1960s and the 70s, with the Mediterranean
club becoming one of its strongest rivals after regaining
a spot in the topflight in 1966.
Marseille finished runner-up behind "Les Verts" in
1970 and won its first title in 23 years ahead of Saint-
Etienne in 1971.
Although their rivalry softened eventually with Saint-
Etienne s sporting decline, both clubs still enjoy the
support of a national fan base and their matchups are
always intense. With Saint-Etienne back in form --- the
club was trailing just three points behind Marseille before
hosting Bordeaux on Thursday --- expect this one to be
How quickly things can change in football, especially
at Paris Saint-Germain. Just last week, following three
consecutive draws in which the club failed to hold on
to the lead, coach Laurent Blanc s job was reportedly
on the line despite his unbeaten record this season.
After PSG s first away win at modest club Caen on
Wednesday, the talks of crisis have gone as pundits now
marvel at the quality of the defending champions passing
Blanc, who coached Bordeaux and was France manager
before taking over at PSG in 2013, is used to the media
speculation. Still, he did not hide his relief after the 2-
"I ll let you judge if it is reassuring or not," Blanc said.
"What makes me happy is that we got to take three
points away from home finally. After trips where we
had failed to take these points, we had to put in the
urgency to take three. There is not yet the bright character
in our game that we had last year, but I think we are
gradually coming back."
PSG s win at Caen was marred by Ezequiel Lavezzi s
injury, with the Argentina forward forced off the pitch
early on with a thigh injury that could sideline him up
to six weeks.
Lavezzi s absence is a new setback for PSG after striker
Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked up a heel injury that ruled
him out against Caen while defender Thiago Silva is
not expected to recover from his hamstring injury ahead
of Barcelona s visit in the Champions League next week.
Ibrahimovic should be rested at Toulouse but Blanc
is counting on him against the Spanish club.
MILAN---It s business as usual at the
top of the Serie A table as joint leaders
Roma and Juventus have maximum
points heading into the fifth round of fix-
Juventus has yet to concede a goal and
the three-time defending Italian champion
visits Atalanta on Saturday. Earlier in the
day, Roma hosts Hellas Verona.
Elsewhere, Fiorentina travels to Torino
and Napoli visits Sassuolo looking to kick-
start their campaigns after disappointing
There is also a derby match on Sunday
night as Genoa entertains Sampdoria.
Here are the things to know about the
Italian league entering this week s games:
Juventus and Roma are the only sides
which have won all four of their opening
Serie A matches this season and new Bian-
coneri manager Massimiliano Allegri is
slowly beginning to win his doubters round.
Roma pushed Juventus all the way last
campaign and look set to do the same this
time around after spending more than
twice as much as any other Italian club
in the preseason transfer market --- 55 mil-
lion euros ($71 million).
Coach Rudi Garcia insisted it is not yet
a two-horse race for the title.
"Allegri has nothing to prove, he is a
great manager and we know it," Garcia
said. "He has at his disposal a strong squad,
which is looking to achieve top targets.
"We tried to reduce the gap in the sum-
mer, but it is still too early to talk about
a Juventus-Roma duel."
set for derby
Marseille, Saint-Etienne, set for derby
LONDON---On a day of derbies in north
London and Merseyside, the fate of Man-
chester United will be the most anticipated
United hosts West Ham having won just
one of its opening five Premier League
games, including a 5-3 collapse at Leicester
"It s happened, it s about overcoming
things," said manager Louis van Gaal, who
has yet to halt the decline from the season
under David Moyes.
For all the attacking firepower at Louis
van Gaal s disposal --- from Angel di Maria
to Radamel Falcao --- Van Gaal is down to
just one fit centre back, Marcos Rojo, to
face West Ham at Old Trafford.
Jonny Evans was out with an ankle injury,
Tyler Blackett was suspended following his
dismissal at Leicester, Chris Smalling was
injured in training, and Phil Jones was side-
lined with a hamstring problem. Either
Daley Blind or fellow midfielder Darren
Fletcher might have to be shifted back into
"All the three right-sided centre halves
are out --- I don t know how long they will
be out for," Van Gaal said yesterday. "Evans
is a very difficult one. His bone is bruised
a lot and we have to wait and see, to evaluate
"Smalling yesterday ran out of the train-
ing session because he had stiff legs. We
have to see what that means. But I don t
take risks with players."
Another six players are also injured,
including midfielders Michael Carrick and
Marouane Fellaini, and winger Ashley
"I have never been in this situation before
(with injuries)," Van Gaal said. "It is strange.
For me it s difficult to understand. We are
evaluating what we can do in a different
United-West Ham is one of 10 games
this weekend. Here are some things to know
about the other games:
North London Derby
For all the talk that the balance of power
might shift in London, Arsenal remains the
dominant force, with Tottenham in its wake.
They meet at the Emirates Stadium sep-
arated by two points, but few would bet
against Arsenal remaining in the top four
Tottenham has won just twice at Arsenal
since the inaugural Premier League season
in 1992-93. Mauricio Pochettino s side goes
into the game having taken just one point
from its last three league games.
"We have a lot of work to do to improve
the concept of the team," the former
Southampton manager said ahead of his
first north London derby. "But we are going
in the right way and we need to show our
work from the training ground and in the
training sessions and produce that in the
Early pacesetter Chelsea finds itself in
the unusual position of hosting an Aston
Villa side alongside the London club in the
top four on Saturday.
"They ve had a great start to the season,
apart from their last result (losing at Arse-
nal), so it s going to be another tough test
for us," said Chelsea defender Gary Cahill,
who has played for Villa.
Chelsea remains unbeaten after drawing
at Manchester City last weekend.
"If you have a couple of sticky results
it puts the pressure on going into games,"
Cahill said. "But at the moment we re
unbeaten, we re going well and we should
The first game of the round six sees Liv-
erpool host Everton, struggling without
Luis Suarez, who joined Barcelona in the
offseason, and injured striker Daniel Stur-
ridge. Liverpool has collected just six pointed
from a possible 15 so far, losing back-to-
back league games against Aston Villa and
West Ham going into Saturday s derby.
But Everton hasn t won at Anfield for 15
years and lost last weekend to Crystal
Champion Manchester City travels to
Hull, Crystal Palace hosts Leicester and
Southampton takes on Queens Park
Sunderland, Burnley and Newcastle are
still searching for their first wins. Sunderland
hosts Swansea on Saturday, Burnley travels
to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, and
Newcastle is at Stoke the following night.
Injuries add to
Van Gaal's agony
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, left, Ander Herrera, centre, and Radamel Falcao,
second right, attempt a shot at goal watched by Leicester's Wes Morgan, right, during
the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Manchester
United at King Power Stadium, in Leicester, England, Sunday. AP PHOTO
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