Former Arsenal target to make his long-awaited Ligue 1 return tonight

Gourcuff

After recovering from his 16th injury since joining Lyon, Yoann Gourcuff will make his return against Monaco on Friday night.

On Friday night, two sides that should be part of Ligue 1's top five, look to end their bad runs of form and start to climb up the table. Lyon welcome back former Arsenal target Yoann Gourcuff into the squad after recovering from his 16th injury since joining OL in 2010.

This is a huge game for both sides. Lyon have made the worst start in their history, losing three out of four games this season. Back at the Stade Gerland, Hubert Fournier needs to hope the returning players bring about a change in fortunes. OL had plenty of chances against Metz in their last game before the international break, but lacking a clinical edge, they couldn’t take advantage and ended up losing 2-1 from leading at half-time.

There is some relief for new boss Fournier this weekend as a few of his players return from injury. In defence, Henri Bedimo and Milan Bisevac are still out, but Samuel Umtiti will come back into the back four, with Corentin Tolisso slotting into left-back.

Umtiti’s return allows captain Maxime Gonalons to move to the base of the diamond midfield, flanked by former Spurs and Sunderland midfielder Steed Malbranque and Jordan Ferri.

Lyon are also boosted by the return of Nabil Fekir in the No.10 role. He looked very exciting and dynamic in the opening home game against Rennes, but injury has kept him out till now.

Mohamed Yattara is once again fit enough to join Alexandre Lacazette in attack. The French international has three goals this season and will welcome the added fire power after signing his new contract until 2018 this week.

The big news for OL is the return of Yoann Gourcuff, he will likely play some part on Friday night, most likely off the bench, as he tries to put his epic injury problems behind him. Lyon will be hoping that the former AC Milan playmaker can impress this season and they might be able to sell him on this January, Mr Wenger may be paying attention.

Monaco have won four points in their last two matches, their form has been slightly better than their opponents, but far from the dominating force they have the potential to be. With the future of the departed stars known, Monaco can now move on, and an away win in Lyon would be the best possible start to this new, less glamorous project.

Radamel Falcao is gone, and the new project at Monaco gets underway this week under Portuguese coach Leandro Jardim. There has been signs of improvement against Lille and Nantes and now against Lyon, his side can show the potential they have.

Jardim will continue his 4-3-3, the midfield trio of Jeremy Toulalan, Joao Moutinho and Geoffrey Kondogbia have not impressed yet, but they have the ability to dominate.

Italian centre-back Andrea Raggi will continue in the centre of defence beside Ricardo Carvalho with Tunisian Aymen Abdennour out injured. Fabinho’s involvement with the Brazil national team this week could see Nabil Dirar come in at right-back, but if the Brazilian is fit he will continue in the role.

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco set up Dimitar Berbatov’s goal against Lille and will got the nod on the right, Jardim’s one main decision is who to play on the left of Berbatov. Valere Germain has been the regular choice but he hasn’t really made in impact, but it will be a bold move for Jardim to pick the more attacking option of Lucas Ocampos playing away from home.

Monaco won this fixture 3-2 last season, with James setting up and scoring a goal, that was Monaco’s first win in Lyon in 12 years. Victory for either side would obviously be a huge boost, but the fear of losing could be too high, a draw is likely.

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