Thanks! Will share tactic at some point, yes. Will have to test more though because it has gone badly with some other teams..
Nolan Roux left on December 1, another £160k for the pot and now the wage bill is down to £225k per week. We're still in debt, though, even if we made a £1.7k profit in November – £302k to be precise.
We've seen a couple of sackings so far with Rennes, Strasbourg and Lille have all changed their manager in November.
A home match against 15th-placed Lens is the first challenge of December. Briançon returns to start for us in defence, but other than that, there are no changes once again.
We had a good start with eight shots before Lens had any and should've scored one of them before number nine, which saw Cubas, unmarked just outside the box, hit a long-range strike from a throw-in after 25 minutes – another Coulibaly assist. After 74 minutes, Ferhat added another from an Alakouch cross. Defender Pablo Martínez's header from a Ferhat free kick made it three shortly afterwards, and that was that. 63% possession, 33 shots to 3 and a 2.7-0.24 xG.
Kone sprained his wrist during the match though, meaning it would be touch and go for the PSG game for our striker, while LWB Meling needs a rest, too. He got three days off training rather than a holiday, though.
The trip to Paris went about as expected with all the far superior quality they have around the pitch. We kept the same tactics and lineup, with Kone managing to start despite his injured wrist. Goals from Neymar, Mbappe and Otavio sunk us, with Ripart managing the only reply via a Kone assist. Ferhat had a particularly bad game with a 5.9 rating, a poor free kick from him directly leading to a goal at the other end.
We're still on top, though, clear by two points after Lorient held PSG to a 3-3 draw in the first game of the month.
We got drawn against Dijon in the Ninth Round of the Coupe de France on January 3, a winnable game to kick off our quest to reach the Eleventh Round. But bottom club Strasbourg, who were on five points after 15 games with their catenaccio style, were the next test in the league.
We could only manage a 1-0 win against the Alsace team as Lucas Deaux stuck from the corner of the box after six minutes from an Alakouch assist. Strasbourg's three shots gave them a measly 0.13 xG to our 25 and 1.41. A win is a win and we remained two up on PSG.
After that, a visit to Bordeaux and a visit from local rivals Montpellier were all that lay between us and the mid-season break and the transfer window. Before that, though, backup winger Yassine Benrahou asked to leave on loan, so I happily offered him and his £4.7k per week wages out to other clubs.
Coulibaly scored to break his five-game drought, while Kone's continued to a sixth game. Loanee Schiappacasse came off the bench to add a second and secure the win, though, while it was a 12th clean sheet for us and Reynet, the best defence in the league. Alakouch delivered his fifth assist of the season and a MOTM to go with it.
The Derby de Languedoc saw third-placed Montpellier come set up with two defensive midfielders in front of the back four, but they could only hold out for 13 minutes before Alakouch crossed it in to Ripart to put us one up. Ripart, who started striker in place of Kone, would a second just before half time with a clean penalty. The second half started disappointingly as Ferhat went off with a knee injury for, while Yves Mollet got one back soon after. Kone would come on later on, missing a golden chance on the break but setting up Ripart's hat trick goal in the final five minutes.
Our 16th win in 18 games ensured we were 'winter champions' on 48 points, two clear of a PSG team who had outscored us by nine so far. Montpellier stayed third on a distant 34 points.
And finally some squad stats to end 2020. As you can see, it's a very set starting 11 with not many chances for subs and reserves to get much game time. Another thing that stands out is the xG overperformance of several players – Coulibaly, Kone and Cubas in particular.
Meling and Alakouch are the main creators from the wing back positions. That's not much of a surprise giveen how much space they get playing as virtual wingers. Ferhat is our top real winger as Ripart was mostly just 'good' rather than great on the other side.