Last updated : 02 October 2002 By Grandmaster Suck

    The eighth week of the season sees Nice remain the surprise packages at the top of Ligue 1 on 17 points. After getting dumped 1-2 at home to Le Havre on the opening day, the newly promoted boys from the South have gone unbeaten, seeing off the challenge of some of the big boys and gubbing Marseille in the local derby a few weeks ago. The only familiar name in their set up is Kaba Diawara, formerly of Arsenal, Blackburn and West Ham. Bagging 5 in 8 he is having a good season. Nice are a decent side who scrap and battle for every single minute of every game. Time will tell if they have the squad to last the pace.

    Sitting on 5 in 5 and substitute centre forward for joint top Auxerre is my star of the season so far. "The Undertaker" to give him his macabre nomme de guerre. 24 year old Zimbabwean Benjamin Mwamuwari was plucked from the relative obscurity of the Swiss 1st Division by Guy Roux in the summer as cover for Djibril Cisse. Now with the bold Benjamin burying the opposition, Djibril may struggle to get back in the first team. Why cant we uncover talent like this?

    Bordeaux and Marseille have started this season better than last, both only 3 points off the top in joint second spot, both winners at the weekend. Apart from slapheaded tosspot Frank Leboeuf, Marseille probably have their strongest line up in several years and should challenge for the title. In Pascal Johanssen, signed from Strasbourg just before the window closed, they have one of the best young midfield prospects in France and upfront in Cyril Chapuis they have a top class striker.

    Monaco and PSG sit in joint third on 13 points. Monaco gubbed champions and pre season favourites Lyon 3-1 in Lyon at the weekend and are looking good. Club captain Ludovic Giuly and centre forward Shabani Nonda, who many Bears will remember from our tussles with Monaco a few seasons back, have both started the season brilliantly and look to be leading Didier Deschamps side to their best season in a while. PSG on the other hand are their usual inconsistent self. They await the return to form and fitness of Ronaldhino with baited breath.

    Of the middle of the table pack Lens and Lyon in ninth and tenth spot are the surprise strugglers. 7 points off the top berth they both need to get the collective finger out before the league runs away from them. With the exception of Sonny Anderson, scoring for fun as per, and Brasilian world cup star Juninho the Lyon side has the look of a team not yet out of pre season slumber. I expect them to climb the table. As for Lens. Well, with a left back called Fanni who needs Fernando Ricksen? (Sorry Nando, no offence)

    To close on a negative note. The first round of matches was miserable for both French entries. Lyon and Lens were both dumped and lie bottom of their respective groups. This calamity spurred France Foot to produce the record of French clubs in in the Champions League over the last six seasons. Of the 52 matches played by French sides over the last six years only 9 have been victories.

    Surely even Rangers and Celtic arent that bad!!!