Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences



By Tony Attwood

Lens have only won the French league once (in 1998) but in 2022/23 they came second in the league for the fifth time finishing just one point behind the eternal winners Paris Saint-Germain.  Lens were 11 points ahead of the third placed team Marseille on 73 points.

This of course reminds us of what has happened to the French league in recent years and what will happen in the Premier League if the league’s enquiry into the financial doings of Manchester City do not bring about a reform of the current situation.

Before 2012 Paris St Germain had won the French league just twice – once in 1986 and once in 1994.   However from 2012 onward PSG won the league nine times out of 11 seasons, and in the two seasons they did not win, they came second.

This of course comes about because Qatar funds PSG.   However, it must be said that at long last proper and serious questions are being asked in the media about PSG.  For as said recently in an article, “the economic accounts at Paris Saint-Germain do not add up and do not balance.”   The same may well turn out to be true in relation to Manchester City.

So second place is realistically what most teams in France can aim for, and it is what Lens achieved last season – exactly as Arsenal did in the Premier League.   And because of this coincidence, it is worth having a look at the achievements of the two teams – each ending up in second behind a club whose income knows no bounds.

And the comparison really is interesting, because it is so close…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
2 RC Lens 38 25 9 4 68 29 39 84
2 Arsenal 38 26 6 6 88 43 45 84


Of course the two leagues cannot be directly compared, but it is fascinating how close the results of the clubs matched each other last season.

And that closeness can be used to compare the  form of the two teams last season in terms of Arsenal at home and Lens away


    P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Arsenal home 2022/3 19 14 3 2 53 25 +28 45
4 Lens away 2022/3 19 8 8 3 27 16 +11 32


This problem with the away form has followed Lens into this season – and it confirms what we already knew…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
4 Arsenal home 2022/3 7 5 2 0 18 7 11 17
8 Lens away 2022/3 7 2 2 3 7 9 -2 8


For here we do see a difference because a lot of Lens’ success comes from their home ground, which as Arsenal found is quite small and intimidating.   The Lens stadium’s capacity is 38,223 – about 7,000 more than the city’s population, and it is noisy and intimidating.

But those figures above suggest that Arsenal might well have quite an advantage playing at home tonight.

As for the team… The report is that Arteta has announced that Vieira was referred to a specialist “and the advice was to have an operation in his groin. We did that yesterday. We expect him to be out for weeks now.”

The Standard reports that “Ben White should be fit to face Lens” having recovered from his knee problem.  Arteta is reported as saying, “He trained the day before the Brentford game and was feeling good, I think he’ll be available for this game.   That’s very good news for us.”

The paper also says that “Youngsters Ethan Nwaneri and Myles Lewis-Skelly could be with the squad on Wednesday after training with the first team on Tuesday. The pair have both returned from England’s Under-17 World Cup campaign.”

They predict the team as


Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;

Odegaard, Rice, Havertz;

Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

Football.London has the headline “Full Arsenal squad revealed for RC Lens Champions League clash as Arteta faces midfield dilemma” but given they suggested that Raya could play against Brentford last weekend, it seems rather pointless to consider anything they say at all seriously.  But the link is there in case you have nothing else to do, or indeed want a bit of a laugh.

Yahoo goes with exactly the same team as The Standard but 90 Min has a variation


White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;

Odegaard, Rice, Trossard;

Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

The Telegraph doesn’t offer a team, but does go for a 2-0 Arsenal victory.

And here is a rather odd one from LastWord in which they suggest Arsenal will drop Odegaard.  There is no explanation as to why, but the team they put forward is


Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko,

Rice, Jorginho, Havertz,

Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli.


And that’s about it for this game.  I’m getting ready for the drive to London – the last couple of games have been preceeded with horrific journeys meaning my pal and I only just made it onto the train at New Southgate for the last part of the journey into Finsbury Park.  I am hoping for better today.

More tomorrow.



5 Replies to “Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences”

  1. Now that the VAR shit is hitting the fan in the CL, it is interesting to consider one overlooked similarity between the goal agains Arsenal and the penalty against Newcastle….

    Now I have no proof, I am just considering the optics. So please bear with me.

    1) goal against Arsenal after fouling Newcastle – Arsenal

    what we have here is a team in hands of saudi owners. VAR referees in the PL are said to go moonlighting in Saudi Arabia between PL games. The decision goes in the favor of the saudi owned team

    2) penalty against Newcastle in Newcastle – PSG

    what we have here is a team in hands of saudi owners facing a team owned by Qatar. As it goes the boss of the team owned by Qatar is a big honcho in UEFA. The VAR decision goes in favor of PSG

    I’d say that visibly Newcastle have been outgunned…

    As I’ve written, I am considering the optics. And to me they don’t look good. Even if all is done by the book. The conflicts of interests loom way larger the the beautiful game.

  2. Well that was a pretty impressive first half…. Great match and then just controlling the game in the second half to only add a penalty goal. 6 different goalscorers…. has this been done before in the CL when a team scores 6???

  3. Just woke up to see the latter part of the games , but was pleasantly suprised to see the lead we had run up. Very impressive . We can now give the rest of our squad a good run out for the next match .
    Well done , guys.

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