French Fancies: no cup joy for Eric Roy or Arsenal Ladies

French women are doing OK, but there’s mixed news of the footballing men of Salut! Sunderland‘s choice. Here’s another of our looks at French football …

Since a lot of readers are coming this way from the Sunderland Women’s Football Club site, thanks to a terrific piece Rob Hutchison wrote here about a women’s game he attended and which has been flagged there, I ought to cross the Ts on the Arsenal v Lyon semi-final of the female equivalent of the Champions’ League.

No apologies for repeating the clip showing two beautifully taken goals by Lyon’s Lotta Schelin in the first leg at the Stade de Gerland. Two-nil up, they gave themselves a decent cushion for the return leg just outside London – and well as making me think Steve Bruce could do worse than sign Lotta on emergency loan to play alongside Asamoah Gyan for our remaining games.

Lotta, just an honorary Frenchwoman since she is a Swedish international, didn’t score at Meadow Park, Borehamwood on Saturday, but didn’t have to as her teammates wrapped up the home-and-away tie by cruising to a 3-0 lead by half time. Bravo Arsenal for getting two back, but the aggregate result was hardly in doubt.

Lotta Schelin, from a Facebook tribute page

My soft spot for Arsenal FC, despite the comically hyper-sensitive nature of many of its supporters, extends to the Ladies.

In my view, they have little more right than Sunderland to be playing in the new Super League from which our lasses were shamefully excluded, but they do reflect the advances made in recent times by women’s football in the UK. What’s more, my younger daughter once had trials for them and even played as a sub for the last 20 minutes of a pre-season friendly, and proud as I am of her achievements elsewhere, I’d have been prouder still had her fitness been just a shade sharper at the time. That, I felt then, would have made the difference between Yes and No.

So let me say I am disappointed for the Gunners both in their defeat at Lyon’s hands and the all-but-surrendered bid for the Premier title.

In French men’s footie, our team of preference Nice could not make it to the Coupe de France final, beaten 2-0 at home by Lille. Though I now expect them to be overhauled by Marseille, Lille are currently top of Ligue 1 so this was no disgrace. It just makes it that much harder for Eric Roy, the former Sunderland midfielder, to be sure of still being manager next season.

Lille will play PSG in the final after the Parisians overwhelmed Angers, from the second division, 3-1. The second goal was a peach, superb movement and passing leading to a sweetly volleyed shot by Nené from the edge of the area.

In the league, other than Marseille gaining ground on Lille (just one point behind now), Nice did cheer up Eric by beating Monaco 3-2 but our hapless friends in Arles-Avignon continued to make Sunderland’s 2011 look impressive with yet another defeat – 1-0 at homes to Valenciennes – to leave them at rock bottom on 13 points.

Monsieur Salut

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