Lens welcome back key defender Alaeddine Yahia for this match which is really important. They always seem lost at sea when he doesn’t play and have conceded a ridiculous number of goals when he’s not present. Lens are at full strength here and have no injuries or suspensions to worry about, except to a couple of minor players. Metz are in the exact same boat and have a squad in prime condition. They do have defender Guido Milan on the sidelines, but he’s a long term casualty and hasn’t played any minutes yet this season.
What’s happened to Lens? They were flying until they lost 6-2 away to Le Havre, they also lost at Tours last Monday (1-3). In all fairness they should’ve beaten Creteil at home in between those two games but missed tons of chances. Lens didn’t have Yahia play in either the Le Havre or Tours fixtures and conceded a total of 9 goals in those contests. They also conceded 4 times when he missed the coupe de la ligue match against Creteil earlier in the campaign. Clearly, he’s a key individual and they’ll be massively boosted with him at the back. I still rank Lens as possibly the best team in Ligue 2, but their last 3 matches have certainly not impressed me.
This won’t be an easy contest either because Metz are in decent form and should be fresh with confidence following a derby victory against Nancy last week. They were very impressive as they hammered their Lorraine rivals 3-0, everyone associated with the club would’ve been delighted with that performance and result. Metz have only actually lost one game this season and have adapted to Ligue 2 life pretty well following their promotion. Perhaps this could be their toughest test yet though.
I will give Lens one more chance to deliver the goods for me. They have cost me some units in recent weeks, but I won’t lose my faith in them…..yet. On paper, they still have a great team and they have a quality manager in Antoine Koubouare. Lens will be very angry following recent results and be out to prove a point here, live on a primetime Monday night TV slot. They are definitely at least one class better than Metz which makes these odds really generous. The visitors could be flat following a very emotional victory against Nancy. They managed to beat Caen away from home recently, but that was a very fortunate success, I’m not so sure Lens will let them off the hook so easily. This match means more to Lens and they really need to get back on track tonight in the promotion race. I’m going to back them on a -0.5 line for 4 units.
Prediction: Lens 2-0 Metz
Recommended bet: Lens -0.5 @ 2.10 4/10