- Lens v Arsenal: a town smaller than Highbury stadium; a style based on PSG
- If it’s Arsenal it must be chaos. Lens v Arsenal preview
By Bulldog Drummond
Basically the history between the two clubs don’t tell us much and we probably knew that anyway…
|16 Sep 1998||RC Lens v Arsenal||D||1-1||Champions League|
|25 Nov 1998||Arsenal v RC Lens||L||0-1||Champions League|
|06 Apr 2000||Arsenal v RC Lens||W||1-0||UEFA Cup Semi-final|
|20 Apr 2000||RC Lens v Arsenal||W||1-2||UEFA Cup Semi-final|
Since the only meeting between these two in the Champions League, Lens have only played once in the competition, going out in the group stages.
The BBC tells us that “The 3-4-2-1 is the trademark of coach Franck Haise with the principles of playing forward, pressing high and intensity,” which I think we already knew. But what I at least didn’t know, is that some 20 years ago Lens finished second in Ligue 2 but were not allowed promotion for financial reasons. Then two weeks before the season started they were promoted, but then the following January “a court ruled Lens would be relegated back to Ligue 2 at the end of the 2014-15 season no matter where they finished.”
But Lens co-operated by finishing bottom of the league and so being relegated anyway. These French leagues eh?
But even so, Lens had four players who were largely unknown when the transferred to the club in last season’s Ligue 1 “team of the season”. So we should not be under-estimating them. But they still have to sell players to stay afloat. Openda, who was their top scorer last season with 18 goals, has gone to Leipzig and Fofana, the second highest scorer in the team with eight goals has gone to Saudi Arabia.
Contemplating the Arsenal team, the Standard says, “Thomas Partey has been included in the travelling squad but will surely be on the bench, having not played since August, leaving Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard likely to continue in midfield.”
They also note that Fabio Vieira might replace Kai Havertz, while “Leandro Trossard is also pushing for a return to the side after recovering from injury. The Belgian was impressive in the opening Champions League group game against PSV Eindhoven and may replace Eddie Nketiah in the front three, allowing Gabriel Jesus to return to central striker.”
They also suggest “Takehiro Tomiyasu could start, enabling Arteta to rest Oleksandr Zinchenko against his former club at the weekend.”
Jurrien Timber and Gabriel Martinelli have not travelled with the rest of the party. And this leaves them suggesting the line up of
White, Gabriel, Saliba, Tomiyasu;
Rice, Odegaard, Vieira;
Saka, Trossard, Jesus
The Standard reverts to its style of journalism ancienne with the notion that, “Arteta is sweating over the fitness of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus after they sustained knocks late on at Bournemouth.” Oh for goodness sake! Can’t they afford someone who can writer proper English like what I does? Innit?
They also add that “Emile Smith Rowe could come into the team if Arsenal are wanting for wingers while Aaron Ramsdale will also hope to earn a recall and start in goal.” They predict Arsenal will win by three goals to one.
And so finally onto our regular supplier of information: Sports Mole. They offer an alternative line up of…
White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;
Odegaard, Rice, Vieira;
Trossard, Nketiah, Jesus
And they suggest that the result will be Lens 1-2 Arsenal, adding, that “While Lens have shown improvement over the last couple of weeks, they now face a completely different type of opponent in Arsenal, who are firing on all cylinders. We expect the hosts to put on another good performance here, but we are backing the visitors to claim the points.”
And here is one other thought. If it is the case that Arsenal win this game easily, and then put Sevilla in their place in the next games, that could mean Arsenal will qualify for the knock out stages with a game or even two games to spare.
That is a big “if” but if so it could mean that Arteta has the chance to rest a few players for the last or even last two games, which would be helpful as by that time the media will be full of games coming “thick and fast”. And we know what that means… journalists spending more time in the pub than writing their copy.
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