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Dec, 5, 2012

Gomis revelling in prolific start

With his goals central to Lyon rising to the top of the Ligue 1 table, Bafetimbi Gomis is revelling in his "best start to a season" ahead of this weekend's Rhone derby with Saint-Etienne.

Only Paris Saint-Germain superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored more Ligue 1 goals this season than Gomis, 27, whose ten league strikes are just four shy of his tally for the 2011-12 campaign, his most prolific yet at OL.

The criticism that has dogged the forward since his €15 million move from OL's arch-rivals, Saint-Etienne, in 2009 is now fading thanks largely to Gomis rolling up his sleeves and changing the odd nappy, as he told the club's official website.

"Is it my best start to a season? Yes. The fact I became a dad has a lot to do with it. I'm full of the joys of spring, and it helps my football," said Gomis, whose partner gave birth to a little boy, Dione, in mid-September. "I've always tried to stay positive. I say to myself that there are worse things in life when it's not going well."

While Gomis is blossoming, OL too are flourishing. A number of old heads, such as Cris and Kim Kallstrom, were offloaded in the summer to help ease the club's financial concerns, and also to improve the spirit in the dressing room - something club president Jean-Michel Aulas openly criticised over the summer.

Though Steed Malbranque has made an inspirational comeback to the club where he started his career, it is the team's youngsters, such as Clement Grenier and Alexandre Lacazette, who have been the driving force behind OL's return to prominence under Remi Garde.

"The club hasn't changed," Gomis said. "OL have always brought through good youngsters. It was important to get back to basics, and it's good to give them a chance when things are going well. We get on well. They don't hesitate to come to us, and they're good listeners. They're improving, and speak up when they have to."

The side's younger elements will need to show that kind of character and more on Sunday when they go to the home of third-placed Saint-Etienne, the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, which has earned its nickname of "Le Chaudron", ("The Cauldron").

"It's a great derby, and there will be a red hot atmosphere. There's no favourite in a derby. It's a match apart. We're going there to get a result and defend our position.

"It's the sort of game which can give a direction to our season. And Saint-Etienne will have something to say too. Knowing them, they'll be up for it. It's the kind of game which motivates me. It's a Champions League game in terms of the tackles, the commitment, the intensity. We know how to handle those sorts of games at OL."

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