Rejuevenated Gignac Poses Threat to Ibrahimovic and PSG

Christopher AlmerasCorrespondent IISeptember 5, 2012

The much maligned Gignac has raised his game and Marseille's  level of play this season
The much maligned Gignac has raised his game and Marseille's level of play this seasonValerio Pennicino/Getty Images

The main story lines coming into the Ligue 1 season were the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the imminent crowning of Paris Saint-Germain as champions. While an underdog Montpellier team pipped PSG to the title last season, the arrival of Ibra and other skilled talents made the possibility of that happening again very minimal.

Ibrahimovic's arrival in Paris has been greeted with extraordinary expectations. Talk of the Ligue 1 record for goals in a season being in jeopardy soon followed him to Paris.

Ibra has been one of the top players in the world for the last decade. His track record for scoring is impressive, but his ability to score at a high level in every possible way is what makes him special.

The coronation of Ibra as the Ligue 1 scoring king to accompany PSG's crowning as Ligue 1 champions seemed to be a foregone conclusion, but someone forgot to tell Andre Pierre-Gignac and Olympique de Marseille.

Marseille and PSG are known throughout the soccer world for their bitter rivalry. Keeping each other from winning the title is viewed as the next best thing to winning it. Neither side wants to have to sit through a year of gloating by the other side.

Heading into this season, Marseille was viewed as a contender for a European spot. The talent was there, but there was also a lot of discontent and financial difficulty to overcome. The loss of Didier Deschamps seemed to point to the end of a fairly successful run over the last few seasons.

One of the Marseille holdovers was the previously disappointing Andre-Pierre Gignac. Gignac led Ligue 1 in goals with Toulouse in 2009. This earned him an opportunity with the French National Team for World Cup 2010.

That summer, Gignac signed with Marseille. After the French debacle at the World Cup, Gignac's play dropped off considerably. Part of the blame could be placed on injuries, but some of it came down to conditioning and a lack of confidence.

Under Deschamps, Gignac never seemed to fit. Whether that was the coaching, or in integrating with his new teammates, Gignac struggled to live up to the expectations that accompanied his transfer. After enduring a year full of inconsistency and injury, Gignac spent the offseason getting back to full fitness.

Whether it was the change in coaching, the return to health, or a combination of both, Gignac has been on fire to begin the season. His confidence is growing with each game, and the results are showing.

Gignac has scored three goals in the first four games of the Ligue 1 season including a late winner against defending champion Montpellier. His strength and aerial ability have been on display as Marseille's offense has run through him during the early part of the season.

This return to form for Gignac could be a roadblock to PSG's title quest. An in form Gignac makes any team multiple points better through an entire season. Gignac playing to potential with a talented Marseille squad could make them a player for the Ligue 1 title.

Andre-Pierre Gignac could put a stop to two PSG titles if he can keep pace with Ibrahimovic in the Golden Boot race. Nothing would make Marseille's fans happier then seeing the much maligned 26-year-old lead them to a title over their rivals. If he continues to raise the level of his team's play, the fans of L'OM may just get their wish.