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PSG's effective, collective approach pays off at last under Emery

PSG has been forced to raise its game this season, and it finally is under Unai Emery.

Six months is a long time in football. Just ask Unai Emery, who back in August was criticized by ex-PSG midfielder Paul le Guen for being harsh toward Hatem Ben Arfa and apparently working the players too hard in training. As March approaches, PSG is in its best form of the season, having beaten Barcelona 4-0 in the Champions League and Sunday night winning 5-1 at fierce rival Marseille.

PSG clinched last season’s title with a 9-0 win in mid-March. Everything was too easy. This season, it is being pushed by Monaco and Nice, which has forced PSG to raise its level.

“We are still second,” Emery remarked in a rather straightforward manner after the win on the south coast.

No longer reliant on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it has taken some time, but PSG is now an effective collective that harries the opposition and is fast in transition.

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“This PSG is bigger and stronger,” said RMC pundit Daniel Riolo.

If Marseille is to challenge for a place on the podium next season, as owner Frank McCourt has stated, then it will need to spend wisely in the summer. A new spine is required: goalkeeper, center back, holding midfielder and center forward. Patrice Evra only lasted the first half for the host, as the defensive solidity that coach Rudi Garcia built on when he first took over–the team drew 0-0 at Parc des Princes on his debut–has deserted his side.

Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud promised that his team would go for the win, but maybe he should have been more realistic (or better still, quieter) about his ambition. The best Marseille can hope for this season is to make the Europa League, as it is currently three points behind fifth-placed Bordeaux. Next up is a trip to bottom side Lorient. After this crushing defeat, Garcia will need to get back to his winning ways, and fast.