For Saint-Etienne fans (including myself), this season is beginning to feel a little bit like the end of last season. ASSE has played a very entertaining and attacking style in most of their games (except against Toulouse). After six games into the Ligue 1 season, there has been three distinct cases of lost points.
Losing at the death against Lille to open the season was tough to swallow in week one, and last weeks 1-0 loss to Sochaux came down to an inspired keeper and a one man disadvantage for eighty minutes. Another missed opportunity this week at Les Verts had defending champion Montpellier on the ropes, and found a way to let them stay off the canvas.
Saint-Etienne and Montpellier started out content to let the game come to them. After the first 15 minutes, ASSE began to create chances. The visitors missed a couple of opportunities to go ahead through Gradel and Guilavogui before star striker Aubameyang put them up during injury time.
The second half started brightly for Saint-Etienne as Ramon Hamouma and Gradel had wonderful opportunities to go two up on the road. Montpellier finally began to claww back into the game, but Saint-Etienne continued to enjoy the better opportunities.
Montpellier pulled level at the 70th minute when Souleymane Camara fired the home side into a tie after some nice work from Remy Cabella. Montpellier enjoyed more possession the second half, but it was Saint-Etienne who almost snatched the victory as Brandao headed wide in the closing minutes.
Despite having a golden opportunity to take the full three points on the road, ASSE should find the result acceptable. The problem for ASSE is these lost points early in the season will give them little room for error moving forward in their chase for a spot in Europe.
Losing points late was a common theme for Les Verts in the stretch run at the end of last season. Christophe Galtier's team has played some of the best football in France during this young season, but their point total does not fully reflect it. They are looking somewhat like the recent Arsenal teams who have played a visually pleasing style that has ended with a lack of results.
In the long run, ASSE should be fine. Montpellier on the other hand is still searching for their first home win of the young season. As they continue to struggle at home, their chance of defending their title is slipping away.