By Edinson Cavani’s high standards, he’s been going through something of a lean spell. Prior to Sunday’s trip to Monaco, he had not scored a league goal since September 26, while his last strike away from Parc des Princes in Le Championnat arrived in the 4-2 win over Nimes in the fourth week of the season.
The 31-year-old Uruguay international did, however, come to life against embattled Monaco in the weekend’s showcase match at Stade Louis II. Showing all his instincts in front of goal, he was persistently in the right place at the right time to put Thierry Henry’s side to the sword.
It took only four minutes for the ex-Napoli striker to finish off a Neymar pass, and before the interval he had turned home a delivery from youngster Moussa Diaby. And early in the second half, Diaby set up the striker to complete his hat-trick from close range.
Unsurprisingly, such a devastating offensive display has earned him top spot in the Opta Index, which measures the performance of every Ligue 1 player for the weekend’s fixtures, with a score of 97.8.
The other PSG player to stand out in ranking is Diaby. The 19-year-old is seven months younger than the World Cup winner and the Parisians have another special talent on their hands. In just 356 minutes of Ligue 1 football this season, he has two goals and five assists to his credit.
Despite the Parisians winning by a resounding 4-0 margin, they do not dominate the ranking. Instead, it is Lyon, who were 4-2 winners at Guingamp, who boast two players in the top four.
There was little doubt as to OL’s star man at the weekend, with Memphis Depay in stunning form, scoring 97.6 on the Opta Index, a shade behind Cavani. His highlight was a brilliant free-kick into the top corner as he scored two goals and claimed two assists as Bruno Genesio’s men staged an impressive second-half recovery after a poor opening period.
Houssem Aouar was Lyon’s other ace in that match, getting the comeback underway with a well-timed burst from midfield that saw him latch onto a pass from Depay before dispatching a shot with his weaker foot, his right, into the bottom corner.
Guingamp’s response was led by Marcus Thuram, who had missed the previous four matches because of suspension. The young forward returned with a vengeance, however, netting the game’s opening goal and making Lyon sweat late on by converting a penalty. His ranking of sixth is just reward for another fine display.
Completing the podium, meanwhile, is Nice wing-back Youcef Atal, who provided the spark for Patrick Vieira’s men to overcome nine-man Nimes 1-0 at the weekend. The Cote d’Azur club are struggling to find their best level going forward, but the 22-year-old continued his impressive form by getting the decisive goal.
One forward who is not finding it difficult to shine is Wahbi Khazi, who continued his brilliant form since signing for Saint-Etienne against Reims at the weekend. Sainte cruised to a 2-0 win, in part thanks to the fine form of the ex-Bordeaux player, who scored his sixth of the season against one of the league’s tightest defences.
Lucas Ocampos, who sneaks into 10th place, was on target for Marseille in a 2-0 victory over Dijon on Sunday, sliding in to score from virtually on the line.
The remaining players in the top 10 were both involved in Lille’s scoreless draw with Strasbourg on Friday. Racing keeper Matz Sels turned in a solid display to keep the home side out and the former Newcastle goalkeeper has taken seventh on the ranking as a consequence, while metronomic Lille midfielder Thiago Mendes has claimed ninth.
Ligue 1 will take a third international break for the season before returning with a bang when Lyon tackle Saint-Etienne in the Rhone-Loire derby on November 23.