A resurgent RC Lens will aim to keep their current run going as they host Group B leaders Arsenal in a pivotal Champions League clash.
RC Lens, who face Arsenal next, are living the dream and have written one of the most astounding football stories over the last three years. Coming from Ligue 2, Franck Haise’s side narrowly missed the Ligue 1 title last season by a slender margin and now find themselves competing against the very best in the UEFA Champions League.
They will have a firm focus on getting out of this group and into the knockout stages of the tournament ahead of Sevilla and PSV Eindhoven. Their start to the campaign saw them travel to Sevilla but returned with a point after coming back from a goal down against the Spaniards.
Now, as they host Arsenal, Haise’s men have found some form after a disastrous start to the season. Many had expected Lens to start the season well, but they endured a run of no wins in their first five league games. Since the draw against Sevilla, Lens have won their next two domestic clashes and are in good form ahead of the clash with the Gunners.
Arsenal opened their Champions League account in a stellar manner as they saw off PSV Enidhoven with a 4-0 scoreline at the Emirates. Following that, they drew the North London Derby, which may have allowed doubts to creep in with regard to the Premier League title race, but last weekend’s action proved beneficial for the Gunners.
Four goals. Four goalscorers. 👊
📺 Watch the full match replay from our win at the Vitality Stadium 👇
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 1, 2023
Manchester City’s loss allowed Arsenal to close the gap to a single point, and they are now one of the only two teams in the division to remain unbeaten. Moreover, the Gunners face Pep Guardiola’s side at the weekend and will have the chance to leapfrog their rivals.
In the Champions League, Mikel Arteta will surely aim to wrap up the group and will want his players to impose themselves away from home. So far on the road, Arsenal have been exceptional, winning all their games and conceding no goals in the process, with the latest coming against Bournemouth.
Team News & Tactics
Franck Haise confirmed Massadio Haidara will be short physically after picking up a thigh injury against Sevilla. He will miss this one against Arsenal alongside David Costa, who has entered the recovery phase but is not fit for the game on Tuesday.
Franck Haise : « 𝐽𝑜𝑢𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑣𝑒𝑐 𝑏𝑒𝑎𝑢𝑐𝑜𝑢𝑝 𝑑𝑒 𝑐𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑒̀𝑟𝑒 »
— Racing Club de Lens (@RCLens) October 2, 2023
Jimmy Cabot and Wuilker Farinez are both long-term absentees with ACL injuries, but Haise has the whole group that won against Strasbourg. As for the selections, the manager is likely to keep the same lineup, with minor tweaks in midfield and on the wings.
Former Leicester City midfielder Nampalys Mendy could continue in central midfield. But Andy Diouf could make way for Salis Abdul Samed in the other central position. On the wings, Ruben Aguilar could drop down to the bench as Haise might favour Przemyslaw Frankowski on the right side, while Deiver Machado will retain his place on the left.
Haise will leave his attacking third players untouched as Florian Sotoca and Angelo Fulgini will continue to play in the roles assigned behind the central striker. Big-money summer signing Elye Wahi will continue to lead the line, especially not since he has his first goal for Lens, which came against Strasbourg at the weekend.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Samba; Gradit, Danso, Medina; Frankowski, Mendy, Samed, Machado; Fulgini, Sotoca; Wahi
Mikel Arteta surprised some of those who thought the team had a severe injury crisis. On Saturday, he named Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka and William Saliba in the lineup, while Leandro Trossard made his way to the bench against Bournemouth.
Limbering up for Lens 👊 pic.twitter.com/mOlshWXUkt
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 2, 2023
On Saturday, Arsenal potentially had only Thomas Partey and Gabriel Martinelli out of the current squad. But the Ghanaian midfielder has returned to training on Monday. Arteta may not start the 30-year-old on Tuesday but will look to give him some minutes in the latter stages of the game.
On the goalkeeping front, David Raya is expected to continue between the sticks at least until the next international break. Arteta will likely make a few tweaks to his midfield and attacking setup but none to his defensive line.
Fabio Vieira might replace Kai Havertz in midfield, while Leandro Trossard could come in for Eddie Nketiah in the attack. If the Belgian fails to start, then Arsenal will have an unchanged front three that played against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Raya; Ben White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Rice, Vieira; Saka, Nketiah, Jesus
- Lens have won their last two games after failing to win any of their previous six.
- The last time Lens hosted Arsenal was back in 2000, with the Gunners claiming a 1-2 win in the UEFA Cup.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in ten games in all competitions this season.
- Arsenal have won all four of their away games in all competitions this season, conceding no goals in the process.
- With a win, Arsenal could go five points clear of Lens in the Group B table.
Player to Watch
On Saturday Eddie Nketiah competed 100% of his passes, making more than double than he did against Tottenham despite playing 30 minutes less, won 3/3 aerial duels and won us a penalty through decisive, powerful running. That (and more goals) is what #Arsenal need from him. #AFC pic.twitter.com/DWgGhlf81t
— Adam Keys (@adamkeys_) October 2, 2023
Arteta has placed his trust in Eddie Nketiah this season, and while some key injuries have facilitated his selection in games, it’s time for the striker to shine in front of goal. The forward needs to score plenty of goals to showcase he is an all-round forward for this Gunners side.
While he had a relatively quiet NLD, Nketiah was brilliant against Bournemouth, doing what he does best while leading the line. He has plenty of qualities to hurt the opposing defenders, but he will have to prove his worth with goals to his name. A strike in the Champions League would do a world of good for the English star, and he has that opportunity against Lends on Tuesday.
RC Lens 0-2 Arsenal
Lens are yet to replicate the form they showed last season and are nowhere close to achieving it this term. They have managed victories in the last two games, but Arsenal are a different animal altogether. Had this game been at the Emirates, there was a great chance for the opposition to score, but not away from home.
The Gunners have been superb on the road this season and have essentially continued on their form from last season. Hence, there’s every chance that Mikel Arteta completely ignores the weekend clash against Manchester City and puts out his strongest possible lineup to take three points against Lens.