Pre-Match Report

Preview: RC Lens v Arsenal

Lens v Arsenal

Our UEFA Champions League group stage continues with a trip to RC Lens on Tuesday night.

We'll be looking to continue our positive start to the tournament after we put four past PSV Eindhoven without reply in the first round of group matches.

Lens came from behind to hold Sevilla to a 1-1 draw away from home on the same night.

Turning a corner

Lens training

After a disappointing start to their Ligue 1 season, in which Lens failed to win any of their first five games, Franck Haise's side have now won back-to-back matches in the division.

Elye Wahi was the goalscorer as Lens managed a 1-0 win away to Strasbourg on Friday night, having beaten Toulouse 2-1 at home the previous Sunday thanks to goals from Wesley Said and Morgan Guilavogui.

Unexpected title challengers in France last term, Lens are currently 15th in Ligue 1 but appear to have turned a corner following their early season struggles.

Discover much more about our opponents, including their history, stadium and star players

What the managers say


Arteta: "I was really impressed with what they did last year. It’s incredible to finish in that position, and the way they did it, the form they had at home. This season they have been really unlucky with some results. I don’t know how they don’t have more points, so we expect a huge battle.

“We are more than aware of it. They are a really good side and we have a huge test ahead of us.” - read everything from Mikel's pre-Lens press conference.

Franck Haise

Haise: "This competition - we are here and we deserve to be here. Yes, we are outsiders compared with Arsenal so we are not going to compare ourselves.

"The technical level, the collective skill and what has been created by coach Arteta makes me think that Arsenal are superior in the group. Certainly it is a big challenge. The experience, the quality, the past and the present of Arsenal - [but] we met teams like that in Ligue 1, like Paris Saint-Germain, and we have got results."

Talking tactics

Adrian Clarke: Lens head coach Franck Haise likes to use a 3-4-2-1 formation. Within that shape their two attacking midfielders will drop into narrow positions when they lose possession, helping to form a solid four-man unit inside the engine room.

Well organised, they can be difficult to break down. Lens ended 2022/23 with a phenomenal defensive record of just 29 goals conceded in 38 matches.

They are not a high tempo pressing side. Instead, Lens prefer to drop into a mid-to-low block before applying pressure to the man on the ball. From there, they’re capable of springing attacks at pace.

During the current campaign the direct speed of their attacks is averaging 1.98m/sec, the third fastest in France’s top-flight.

On the ball look out for their wide central defenders, especially left-sided Facundo Medina, travelling forward with the ball at their feet. They like to be progressive in their play and will link up regularly with dangerous wing back pair, Przemyslaw Frankowski and Deiver Machado. Those three players enjoyed the most touches for Lens in their 1-1 draw with Sevilla on MD1.

In attack, new striker Elye Wahi was brought in this summer from Montpellier, where he scored 29 league goals across two seasons. Still just 20, he has sharp movement, good pace, and the ability to score with either foot, or his head.

While results have not gone especially well for Haise’s side in the early weeks, they are creating plenty of chances. Paris Saint-Germain are the only Ligue One side to have had more shots from open play than Lens (88) so far.

Overall I’d describe Lens’ tactical approach as balanced. They can play patient possession football but are equally capable of striking quickly on the counter attack.

Team news


Thomas Partey is back in the squad after missing the last six games with injury. Bukayo Saka is also fine to be in the squad after coming off in Saturday's 4-0 win at Bournemouth.

For Lens, this game comes too soon for David Costa, who has returned to training from injury, while Massadio Haidara remains on the sidelines.

Haise will also be without Jimmy Chabot, while Wuilker Farinez is also likely to be absent. David Pereira da Costa could make his return after several weeks out with a shoulder injury.

Facts and stats

Jesus Lens

Our first ever Champions League game was away to Lens, 25 years and 17 days ago. Marc Overmars gave the Gunners the lead, before Tony Vaireilles' last minute equaliser for the French side.

We are unbeaten in our last nine Champions League group stage games (W7 D2), beating PSV 4-0 on their return to the competition this season. Only between November 2003 and September 2006 (17) have we had a longer run without defeat in the group stages.

No player had more shots following a ball carry on MD1 of this season's UEFA Champions League than Lens striker Elye Wahi (3).

Gabriel Jesus has been involved in 15 goals in his last 15 Champions League starts, scoring 12 and assisting three. He's also scored in his last three group stage games in the competition, his longest such run.

Match officials

Marco Guida

Marco Guida has been appointed to officiate Tuesday's game. He has refereed five games so far this season, including one in the Champions League, when he showed a red card to former Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira in Galatasaray's 1-0 win against O. Ljubljana.

Guida has shown 14 yellow cards in total this season.

  • Referee: Marco Guida 
  • Assistants: Filippo Meli, Giorgio Peretti 
  • Fourth Official: Matteo Marchetti 
  • VAR: Paolo Valeri 
  • Assistant VAR: Michael Fabbri

Making history at Lens

We both made our Champions League debut on the same night in 1998 in front of an attendance of 36,000. Watch the video above to see the goals from Overmars and Vairelles that marked the occasion with a 1-1 draw.

How to watch


Join Nick Bright and Adrian Clarke live from the My Arsenal Rewards box at Emirates Stadium as we look back on our 4-0 win at Bournemouth and preview Tuesday's game against Lens. We’ll also look back at some of our favourite Champions League away days and Frimmy will be letting us know what the atmosphere is like in Lens.

Live commentary from Stade Bollaert-Delelis comes from Russ Hargreaves and our Invincible, Jeremie Aliadiere. 

For more information on how to watch the game in you country, see which channels are showing the action.

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