Could Monaco’s 2-1 victory over Toulouse finally have been the turning point in the season that the Stade Louis II side were looking for?
Certainly, the manner in which Leonardo Jardim’s troops played that match was encouraging, with the principality side taking the win – their first of the season at home in Ligue 1 – thanks to goals from Aleksandr Golovin and Cesc Fabregas.
Indeed, such was the assured manner in which they played, Monaco have two players in the Top Five of this week’s Opta Performance Index, which measures how well every player in the division performs on a weekly basis, scoring them out of 100.
Golovin was deployed in midfield, where he turned in a classy display, which is reflected by his score of 97.7 for the weekend – comfortably the best in the whole of the division.
Joining him in the top five is team-mate Fabregas. Signed from Chelsea in January, the Spaniard set the tempo for Monaco, providing the steadying influence that they needed in the centre of the park. And more than that: he scored their precious winner which has done so much to relieve the mounting pressure on the team.
It is clear from looking at the ranking that Lille turned in the performance of the weekend as they ran out stunning 4-0 winners over Nice on Friday. Christophe Galtier’s side have forged a reputation for being a devastating counter-attacking force and an early goal from Rafael Leao helped to highlight their qualities in this regard as it meant their opponents could not simply afford to defend.
While Leao took fifth place on the ranking with an impressive score of 89.4, he was bettered by two team-mates.
Nicolas Pepe finished in second this week off the back of another devastating display. Lille were delighted to have been able to keep their star player during January but interest from Europe’s biggest clubs will surely only mount if he maintains the type of level that was on display on Friday.
Not only did he score a brilliant first-half goal, he laid on another in the second period for Jonathan Bamba, who provided excellent support down the opposite wing and finished with the third-best Performance Index score of the weekend as a result.
Highlighting the depth that LOSC have in their attack is Loic Remy also claiming a Top 10 position. The former Chelsea man came off the bench to head their fourth in stoppage time.
He was not the only substitute to score, though. Both Suk Hyun-Jun and Clinton N’Jie made the Top 10 off the back of scoring displays from the bench, both netting in the same game as Reims overcame Marseille 2-1 in Champagne.
Meanwhile, in the vital relegation battle between Angers and Dijon, a goal from Stephane Bahoken was the difference. The physical striker put himself about throughout the match and weighed heavily on the opposing defence, yet his first-half strike made all the difference in a cagey encounter.
Finally, it is only just that Lyon are recognised in this ranking after they became the first team to beat Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 this season. They ran out 2-1 winners in a quite brilliant encounter in the Rhone Valley.
Former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele was the man who starred for OL, grabbing the equalising goal before the break and later winning a penalty that proved to be decisive. He has just edged out club-mate Anthony Lopes, who made a string of brilliant saves as a rearguard action late in the day proved to be successful.
Next week, PSG will gear up for a Champions League meeting with Manchester United by hosting Bordeaux, while second-place Lille visit Guingamp and Lyon will look to keep their momentum going by winning in Nice.