Ligue 1: PSG to field big guns for Nice trip

PSG remain unbeaten 16 games into the season and lie a huge 13 points clear of Caen in second place.

AFP| Last Updated: Dec 03, 2015, 20:35 PM IST
Ligue 1: PSG to field big guns for Nice trip

Despite the matches coming thick and fast, runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain will field their strongest possible team at Nice on Friday as their hosts fret over Hatem Ben Arfa`s fitness.

The reigning champions remain unbeaten 16 games into the season and lie a huge 13 points clear of Caen in second place, with Nice a further four points back in fifth place.

Paris saw a run of nine consecutive Ligue 1 wins come to an end in a 0-0 draw at surprise package Angers on Tuesday as coach Laurent Blanc left Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the bench at kick-off.

The Swede came on for the final stages of that game but should return to the line-up on the Cote d`Azur for what is widely expected to be PSG`s toughest test yet in Ligue 1 this season.

However, Blaise Matuidi picked up a knock at Angers and Blanc will not take any risks with the France midfielder, while Marco Verratti is also sidelined.

While PSG have the depth to deal with such absences, and have nothing riding on their Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk next midweek, Nice cannot afford to lose their star players.

Coach Claude Puel has been fretting over the fitness of Hatem Ben Arfa, who has been outstanding since returning to French football and has scored seven league goals.

However, he did not play in the goalless draw at Lorient on Tuesday due to a bug that he appeared to pick up when on international duty with France recently.

Puel said: "He came off the pitch wiped out at Toulouse," where Nice lost 2-0 last weekend.

"I travelled back from England with him and he was already coughing a lot. If he is 100 percent fit he will play. No matter who you are, you`re either fit or not." 

Lyon also have a meaningless Champions League game away to Valencia next midweek having already been condemned to bottom spot in their group.

They have also not won any of their last three league outings but can leapfrog third-placed Angers by beating the promoted side at the Stade de Gerland on Saturday.

Coach Hubert Fournier has many problems just now, including in attack, where Alexandre Lacazette is not the player he was last season and Claudio Beauvue toiled badly in Tuesday`s 0-0 draw at Nantes.

"It hurts to see him like that," Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said of Beauvue, a summer signing from Guingamp. "He seems to have lost his feel for the game."

Elsewhere, struggling Lille head to second-placed Caen fresh from a 1-0 win at home to Saint-Etienne on Wednesday, their first victory since the appointment of new coach Frederic Antonetti.

Monaco are at Bastia, while struggling Bordeaux travel to Guingamp.

Rock bottom Troyes are at local rivals Reims on Saturday as they continue their search for a first win of the campaign. 

They parted company with coach Jean-Marc Furlan on Thursday after a 3-0 home loss to Toulouse in midweek left them 13 points adrift of safety.
Fixtures (kick-off times 1900 GMT unless stated) 

Friday

Nice v Paris Saint Germain (1930)
Saturday 

Lyon v Angers (1600), Caen v Lille, Bastia v Monaco, Toulouse v Lorient, Reims v Troyes, Gazelec Ajaccio v Nantes
Sunday 

Marseille v Montpellier (1300), Bordeaux v Guingamp (1600), Saint-Etienne v Rennes (2000)