Paris Saint-Germain provisionally moved two points clear at the top of Ligue 1 on Saturday with an untidy 1-0 win away at Angers SCO. Unlikely scorer Layvin Kurzawa volleyed in the only goal of the game on 70 minutes and the French champions were able to see it out for the victory at Stade Raymond Kopa.
With Mauricio Pochettino absent after testing positive for COVID-19, Les Parisiens were led by assistants Jesus Perez and Miguel D'Agostino. PSG secured three points to go with the Trophee des Champions won against bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille earlier in the week to take the Argentine head coach to three wins from four matches since being appointed at Parc des Princes.
Pochettino's arrival has signaled a new start for fringe members of PSG's squad and Kurzawa embraced the opportunity in Angers with a start and a well-taken goal in a moment of need for the capital outfit. The France international displayed his attacking prowess when he volleyed home a half-cleared cross to break the deadlock in an encounter that looked increasingly like finishing goalless until his intervention. With Juan Bernat a long-term injury absentee, Mitchel Bakker has pushed himself into the reckoning at left-back, but the Dutchman dropped to the bench here and it was Kurzawa who started on the left of the defense and took his chance to catch the eye.
Regularly the case so hardly news anymore, Keylor Navas remains one of the best goalkeepers in Europe after another solid performance between the sticks with a number of key saves to aid the team effort for all three points. The 34-year-old Costa Rica international had to be alert inside the opening two minutes and kept out a number of other efforts over the course of 90 minutes as PSG registered a second clean sheet from Pochettino's four opening fixtures.
The French superstar continues to look out of sorts and is still without a goal in 2021 as his difficult spell shows no signs of ending. Mbappe, still just 22, cuts a frustrated figure on the pitch at present and was not happy to be withdrawn 10 minutes from time without making his mark. Some rest over Christmas was expected to recharge Mbappe's batteries to have him back at his best for Pochettino's early games but the former Monaco man continues to struggle for form and confidence as PSG take their first steps under their new boss.
Perhaps the main plus point for Pochettino is the fact that his PSG side are already winning without playing particularly well as they change style and getting all three points without him on the touchline will have also been pleasing. The 1-0 win over Angers perhaps was not what was expected when Mbappe, Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Moise Kean were selected from the start but three wins from four unbeaten games is a decent start to life back in Paris -- particularly with the Trophee des Champions already under his belt. PSG will get better and more confident in the coming weeks and Montpellier HSC at home next week is another opportunity to continue this growing run of form with the French giants unbeaten in seven across all competitions if you consider Thomas Tuchel's final outings.