Those jolly nice people at the LFP gave Bordeaux last weekend off to give them more time to prepare for their Champions League match against Olympiakos last night. It was a generous act which seemed to benefit almost everybody. Bordeaux won 1-0 at Olympiakos, Auxerre (the team they due to play) had a rare chance to get some R&R, and Lille, Lyon and Marseille were given the chance to put some pressure on the leaders, which they duly did.
Montpellier, sadly, had to rip-up their letter of hearty gratitude to the LFP when they were beaten 1-0 by Saint Etienne. Had they won, they'd have gone level with Bordeaux on points at the top of the table - instead, the relegation strugglers brought an end to Montpellier's run of six consecutive games unbeaten and gave their own efforts to remain in Ligue 1 a leg up. Les Verts are now six points clear of the drop, thanks in no small part to Emmanuele Riviere's fourth goal of the season which takes them up to 16th place.
Rene Girard's side will rue their rare mistake as the chasing pack all picked up wins in their respective matches. Lille left it late to beat Rennes 2-1 but nonetheless drew to within a point of Montpellier. One negative note for them, however, was the inury to top scorer Gervinho which could yet undermine the excellent progress they've made so far.
Lyon appear to have finally clicked back into winning ways. They're now unbeaten in six league games going back to mid-January, their latest being a comprehensive 4-0 over the abject Sochaux. Michel Bastos boosted his tally for the season by grabbing a hat-trick while Lisandro Lopez got the fourth goal in the last ten minutes. They now face three games against relegation strugglers before a trip to Marseille in late March, so expect more wins in the immediate future.
Speaking of Marseille, Mamadou Niang proved that anything Bastos can do, he can do just as well after he also scored three in his team's 3-1 win over Nancy. Not only are Marseille now breathing down the neck of Montpellier, but they've still got that ever-present game in hand to come too. Like Lyon, they also have some relatively easy (if not downright winable) games coming up which Bordeaux won't want to be made aware of.
Not so long ago, Monaco were making a belated surge up the table and giving the top teams something to think about, but that's all ancient history now following their 3-0 defeat against Lens on Saturday. It was the principality's third consecutive defeat in the league and sees them drop to 7th place having played a game more than Auxerre and Marseille directly above them. Lens, meanwhile, rise three places up the table to put some daylight between themselves and the relegation zone.
In other news, there were 1-0 wins a-plenty among those teams we've yet to mention. PSG got their first league win in three when they beat Toulouse 1-0 at home. Valenciennes climbed three places to 8th with a 1-0 over bottom club Grenoble, while fellow bottom-dwellers Le Mans picked up only their fifth win of the season by beating Boulogne by the same scoreline. Even Nice gave their relegation battle a shot in the arm with a 1-0 win over an inconsistent Lorient side.
Well that's just about all for Jeu Du Jour for this week, except to say that the French League Cup Final takes place on March 27th between Marseille and Bordeaux, and we'll be telling you who got their hands on that Holy Grail-shaped trophy nearer the time. For now though, it's à bientôt...
Full results and standings available here