by SCOTT TAYLOR
Lucien Favre and his Nice side will look to increase their lead at the top of Ligue 1 when they travel to struggling Caen on Sunday in search of extending their unbeaten run to 12 games.
With Mario Balotelli, Alassane Plea and now Wylan Cyprien all in form, chances of a tenth victory this season will be strong. Caen, in contrast, have only picked up four points from their last eight games.
Monaco could close the gap on the league leaders to just three points before their game as they also come up against a side in the relegation zone on Saturday afternoon.
Ligue 1’s highest scorers, who sit second in the league, come up against a rejuvenated Nancy side, who have picked up four points from their last two games despite sitting in 19th place.
Paris-Saint Germain are starting to find the form that has seen them win the last four Ligue 1 titles with Unai Emery’s men winning five out of their last seven games to move up to third.
They host Rennes on Sunday, who themselves have surprisingly risen to fifth, and are unbeaten in their last four games, but they have won away from home just once all season.
Guingamp are another side who have made a strong start to the campaign, and go into their game with 12th placed Dijon off the back of three consecutive victories.
If results go their way, they could end the weekend in the Champions League places, but travel to a Dijon side that haven’t lost at the Stade Gaston Gerard since the opening day of the season.
That defeat came against FC Nantes, and Rene Girard’s men go into the game having won just two of their last ten league games.
Despite winning once at home all season, they will host a Toulouse team who have wobbled in recent weeks under Pascal Durpraz, winning just once in their last four games. A draw seems likely here.
One team in complete opposite form is seventh-placed Saint-Etienne, who have lost just once in their last ten games, a record only bettered by unbeaten league leaders Nice.
Christope Galtier’s men go into the game having lost just once on their travels since the opening day, largely down to goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier.
They travel to a free-falling Metz side on Sunday afternoon who have lost their last four games, failing to score in three of those.
In contrast, Olympique Lyonnais have been boosted by the return of the clinical Alexandre Lacazette, who netted twice in their win over Toulouse last week.
That eased the pressure on under-fire manager Bruce Genesio, and they entertain Bastia, who have only won once away from home, that coming against bottom side Lorient in August.
Lorient let a two-goal lead slip last week and will look to climb off the foot of the Ligue 1 table, but face a tricky trip to ninth-placed Bordeaux, who haven’t won in their last five matches.
Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side have won at home since August, and have not beaten sides in the relegation zone this season, and will look to change that on Saturday evening.
Despite snatching a draw from the draws of defeat against Lorient last week, Montpellier are another team in a woeful run of form.
The 2011/12 champions have won just once in their last ten games, but face a new-look Marseille side who are yet to score under manager Rudi Garcia after consecutive goalless draws.
Frederic Hantz’s men will also be boosted by the return of Ryad Boudebouz, who has been key for them going forward this season.
Finally, struggling Lille will look to climb away from the relegation place when they travel to Angers on Saturday, but have lost six of their last eight games under Frederic Antonetti.
Ligue 1 Fixtures:
Montpellier vs Marseille
Monaco vs Nancy
Angers vs Lille
Bordeaux vs Lorient
Dijon vs Guingamp
Lyon vs Bastia
Nantes vs Toulouse
Caen vs Nice
Metz vs Saint-Etienne
PSG vs Rennes