Ligue 1: Ben Lyttleton on Hatem Ben Arfa's sulk and the week in French football

Despite the Parisian side earning a famous away win, it was Marseille player Hatem Ben Arfa's sulk that made the headlines

Hatem Ben Arfa was not at Marseille last season when coach Eric Gerets threw a half-time wobbly at Karim Ziani during the team's French Cup defeat at the hands of non-league Carquefou. If he had been, he may have thought twice before refusing to warm up following his demotion to the subs' bench for L'OM's 4-2 home defeat by Paris St Germain on Sunday night. Gerets — who last season had reportedly picked up Ziani by his shirt and thrown him across the changing-room, shrugging off the incident by saying "no one ended up with a broken nose" — was not impressed by Ben Arfa's behaviour. "No player has ever done that to me in all my [16] years as a coach and he will get what's coming to him," was his response after the game.

Coming from a man who, according to former players, used to hang up those he felt had under-performed on coat-pegs and kick in changing-room doors after a defeat, Gerets showed remarkable restraint. After all, he was speaking after Marseille's first league loss of the season, their first at home to PSG for five years and the first time they have ever allowed their biggest rivals to score four at the Vélodrome. And as Lyon had drawn 0-0 with Auxerre on Saturday, L'OM also blew their chance to top the table.

Gerets has since made up with Ben Arfa. "I'm happy with the way I controlled myself during our chat, as at other times it could have been something that ended with injuries to both sides," he said, while Ben Arfa interrupted his coach's Monday press conference to publicly apologise. "I'm a competitor and I admit what I did was wrong, and I have said sorry to the coach." This is the same Ben Arfa who caused dressing-room unrest at Lyon, had a bust-up with team-mate Modeste M'bami during L'OM's warm-up before the European match against Liverpool, and who, when asked to play on the left in a League Cup defeat to Sochaux, told Mathieu Valbuena to move to the left so he could play in the middle. He recently told France Football, "I don't care what people think of me." When William Gallas reportedly revealed that a young player had told him to "fuck off and worry about your own game" after he had offered some advice during a France international training session, Ben Arfa was rumoured to be the culprit.

The row overshadowed one of the best results of Paul Le Guen's career as PSG coach, and will now surely end Didier Deschamps's ambitions of replacing him anytime soon. After Jérôme Rothen's autobiography brought one type of headline to PSG, this week it was the turn of former president Alain Cayzac, who revealed in Impossible Passion that Yoann Gourcuff's proposed move to PSG last year was blocked because his father Christian did not want Le Guen coaching the youngster. The pair, both Bretons, apparently fell out when the elder Gourcuff replaced Le Guen at Rennes in 2001.

This week, Le Guen made two big decisions, one impacting on the other. First he selected a reserve side for Thursday's Uefa Cup loss to Schalke, for which he was widely criticised. Then, with a newly refreshed first team at his disposal, he picked an attacking 4-3-3 formation at Marseille in which Claude Makéléle was the only defensive midfielder. Péguy Luyindula, who scored one and set up another, once again looked like the player who won three titles at Lyon while Mateja Kezman, the striker foisted on Le Guen by perma-tanned owner Charles Villeneuve, stayed on the bench.

But the star of the show was Guillaume Hoarau, who opened the scoring with PSG's fifth consecutive headed goal (despite closing his eyes as he made contact) before having the good grace not to claim a touch when Rothen's free-kick went in through a bundle of players. His second strike allowed him to join Karim Benzema at the top of France's scoring charts. "You can understand why Raymond Domenech is now beginning to think of Hoarau," wrote L'Equipe, who rated him nine out of 10 and compared him to Peter Crouch. "There's something good happening in this team, and we have to make sure we hang on to it," said Hoarau, "but I would prefer you not to talk too much about me."

PSG are now just two points behind second-placed Marseille and will leapfrog Toulouse if they beat them on Wednesday night. But there are still some concerns: goalkeeper Mikaël Landreau was at fault for both Marseille goals, the Schalke defeat showed up the lack of depth in the squad while another Villeneuve signing, Ludovic Giuly, is still struggling for fitness. The owner's obsession with big-name players has now extended to Ronaldo, who has confirmed he's in talks with PSG recruitment director Alain Roche. Considering Le Guen deemed Kezman too high-profile, you can imagine his response to that. Newcastle's Charles N'Zogbia is also a target.

PSG were the only side in the top six to win at the weekend, as Lyon showed signs of fatigue following their midweek 5-3 Champions League win over Steaua Bucharest. They escaped from Auxerre with a goalless draw, but were lucky as Dennis Oliech hit the post, and they could also have had goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre sent off. "I think it's a decent result for us, considering we were all a bit knackered," said Ederson.

Bordeaux somehow failed to capitalise, drawing 2-2 at Nice despite being 2-0 up with six minutes left. At that point, Eric Mouloungui pulled one back from a clearly offside position. "If the linesman could not see that goal was offside, then we have a serious situation here," said Bordeaux's coach, Laurent Blanc. Worse was to come, as referee Tony Chapron awarded a 96th-minute penalty after the ball struck the top of Pierre Ducasse's arm. Loïc Rémy made no mistake from the spot to leave Bordeaux defender Marc Planus fuming: "It's a scandal."

Nice coach Frédéric Antonetti accepted Chapron had messed up but, considering his team were on the receiving end of some shockers in week five, when Lyon came back from 2-0 down to beat Nice 3-2, he remained unrepentant. "I propose that we give Bordeaux the two points that they were deprived of," he said, "on the condition that Nice are given all the points that we've had robbed from us due to bad refereeing this season." Given that the linesman who missed the offside was in fact a lineswoman, Corinne Lagrange, the subsequent debate in France means it might be a while before Sabine Bonnin, the female referee who made her Ligue 2 debut in Angers' win over Tours at the weekend (coming on at half-time to replace her injured brother-in-law) moves up to the top flight.

Grenoble continued their excellent start to the season with a 2-0 win at St Etienne. Caen's hero as they came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Lille was once again Steve Savidan, France's favourite former dustman, who last week revealed he still takes out the bins at home. "I was ashamed when I was 20 and wore a bright yellow jacket and big work boots, but one thing I learnt from those days was solidarity. We all looked out for each other," he told Fabulous Sport. His former club Valenciennes are now 19th after losing 2-1 to Le Havre, their fifth straight defeat. They are winless away in 15 months and, with no Savidanho to bail them out at home, look in big trouble.

Bordeaux could join Lyon at the top if they beat Le Havre on Tuesday, before a full round of action on Wednesday night. "It's a shame we don't have longer to enjoy this win over Marseille, what with all the games this week," admitted Hoarau, but he should look on the bright side. Last weekend's games were the ones set aside for strike action. Perhaps someone forgot to tell Ben Arfa it was called off.

Results: Auxerre 0-0 Lyon, Rennes 2-2 Le Mans, Nice 2-2 Bordeaux, Lille 2-2 Caen, Lorient 3-0 Nantes, Le Havre 2-1 Valenciennes, Toulouse 0-0 Monaco, Saint-Etienne 0-2 Grenoble, Nancy 1-1 Sochaux, Marseille 2-4 PSG

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Ben Lyttleton

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