PSG bid to crank up pressure on stuttering Marseille

Andy Scott

Paris (AFP) - As their meeting with bitter rivals Marseille approaches, Paris Saint-Germain will look to further increase the pressure on the Ligue 1 leaders with a win at struggling Lorient on Saturday.

PSG are the only side in France's top flight to still boast an unbeaten record after Marseille went down 1-0 at Lyon last weekend, a result that means the two clubs are now separated by just four points at the top of the table.

The clubs clash in the French game's biggest grudge match at the Parc des Princes on November 9, and Paris would love to go into 'Le Classique' with a chance of seizing first place from OM.

A win at Lorient would leave just one point between the sides and turn up the heat on Marseille, who host Lens at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday night.

Laurent Blanc's PSG, who host APOEL of Cyprus in the Champions League next midweek, welcome back Edinson Cavani after suspension for the trip to Brittany while Marquinhos is set to return, but they must do without the banned Gregory Van der Wiel.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still on the sidelines with a heel problem that refuses to go away, yet the capital side should still have enough firepower to take three points from the artificial pitch at the Stade du Moustoir.

"It is very important for us to win at Lorient to stay alongside Marseille," captain Thiago Silva told PSG TV.

"We are playing them in our next game so this is a chance to close the gap. Artificial pitches are very different. The ball goes very fast, so we will need to be fully focused."

Lorient may have won at Evian in the League Cup in midweek but their miserable league form -- six defeats in their last seven outings -- suggests that their chances of causing an upset are slim.

"They are not unbeatable. We will do everything to try and get a result," declared their former Marseille striker Jordan Ayew optimistically.

- Marseille forced to rethink -

Ayew's old side had equalled the club record of eight successive league wins before coming unstuck at Lyon, and Marcelo Bielsa's men were then eliminated from the League cup at Rennes on Wednesday, going down 2-1.

"Losing makes me sad. We are very disappointed to exit the competition so quickly," said Bielsa after seeing OM take the lead only to be hauled back on level terms before conceding the winner in the last minute.

"Two defeats in a row obviously forces us to rethink things. Sunday's game is very important and we must immediately start thinking about that."

Against Lens, Bielsa will welcome back a host of players who were rested in the League Cup, including goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and leading scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac, although full-back Brice Dja Djedje is banned after his red card at Rennes.

Third-placed Lyon are unbeaten in seven games but travel to Nice on Saturday wary of the south-coast club's Brazilian star Carlos Eduardo, who netted five times in a stunning 7-2 success at Guingamp last weekend.

Meanwhile, Lille entertain Saint-Etienne chasing a return to winning ways before travelling to face Everton in the Europa League.

In the only fixture played Friday, Monaco drew Reims 1-1.

Fixtures (all kick-offs 1900 GMT unless stated)

Saturday

Lorient v Paris Saint-Germain (1600 GMT), Guingamp v SC Bastia, Lille v Saint-Etienne, Metz v Caen, Montpellier v Evian, Nice v Lyon

Sunday

Nantes v Rennes (1300 GMT), Bordeaux v Toulouse (1600 GMT), Marseille v Lens (2000 GMT)