Analysis: Ben Yedder a shining light in AS Monaco’s loss vs. Lyon
Having had two weeks on the sidelines, Wissam Ben Yedder returned to AS Monaco’s starting line-up with a bang by scoring within two minutes against Olympique Lyonnais.
Recalled by Philippe Clement for this important clash, he stamped his mark immediately by winning a penalty after just 13 seconds, which was interestingly the fastest spot-kick awarded in Ligue 1 since Opta started recording in 2006/2007, before duly converting it with aplomb.
Proving a constant thorn in the side of Laurent Blanc’s men despite Lyon ultimately turning the tide to win 3-1, the diminutive forward underlined his quality emphatically.
Parlaying slick work in possession and intelligent movement while interacting shrewdly with his colleagues, Les Gones struggled immensely to keep him quiet.
Never able to settle into a rhythm of how best to stop him, there was much to enjoy about how his subtle positional variations ensured he gained an edge.
A major threat both in front of and in behind the Lyon backline, his clever drops deep between the lines to connect play, in alliance with his nifty darts into depth, caused persistent headaches for his adversaries.
A proficient surveyor of his surroundings and reader of the play, plus so good at timing his movement, this enhanced his menace, allowing him to get the jump and gain crucial separation.
As a result, defenders were usually in two minds what to do, for if they followed him deep space could be created in behind for a teammate or if they tracked his runs in behind gaps in the 10 spaces became available.
This capacity to pin and occupy one or more markers certainly came in handy for Monaco on many occasions, with his fellow attackers exploiting the space on offer nicely.
In addition, how he’d crisply rotate with his fellow attackers and peel off into wide areas helped manufacture further confusion and allowed him to get free in less populated areas and embark on slick out-to-in blindside runs.
Clinical and instinctive to get free all over the final third, it was a real feature of his play how he regularly outfoxed his foes and breathed life into his team’s offensive forays.
Neat and tidy in possession to boot, this aspect of his armoury elevated his impact, as he linked play coherently with his sharp one touch lay offs and flicks to add momentum to moves.
Moreover, his handful of measured through balls also obliged the runs of teammates to propel them into advantageous locations to get dangerous or shoot.
Boasting terrific strength and balance, plus a low centre of gravity, Ben Yedder held the ball up superbly to bring others into play and maintain possession. His dribbling was valuable in terms of drawing opponents, driving his team forward on the counter and so he could protect the ball while he waited for a viable option to arise.
By the numbers, his seven duels won, five touches inside the box, three shots, three fouls suffered, two dribbles and 21 completed passes (from 25 attempted) aptly depicted his outstanding body of work.
Having failed to score in his previous five matches, which was his longest drought since 2015 when he was at Toulouse, the little genius once again came to the fore vs. Lyon.
Always loving to play against this familiar foe, his strike was remarkably his ninth against Lyon, with this making him the top scorer vs. them this century. Very impressive indeed.
Now up to 18 league goals and 25 in all competitions, it’s amazing how the elite finisher just keeps finding the back of the net, as he’s now bagged 14 goals or more in the last eight Ligue 1 seasons he’s featured in.
Proving what a weapon he unquestionably is even if he’s in the twilight of his career, who can change a game in an instant with a moment of magic, the former Sevilla sharpshooter continues to make age look like just a number in a season that’s been filled with ups and downs for him individually and collectively.
Experienced, gifted and multifaceted, there’s no denying the 32-year-old’s still got it. His latest masterclass against Lyon demonstrated precisely that.