Arsenal fell to a 2-1 defeat away to RC Lens in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, October 3.
Lens entered this contest on the back of a narrow 1-0 win over Strasbourg in their last outing. Having made it to the Champions League after 21 long seasons, Franck Haise and his men were eager to make a mark in the competition. The manager fielded a strong lineup.
The Gunners, on the other hand, seemed to have found their goalscoring stride as they secured a 4-0 with over Bournemouth in their last game. Their last game in the UCL too was a 4-0 thumping of PSV. Mikel Arteta fielded a near full strength lineup for this game.
Arsenal made a lovely start to the game and looked confident in the face of a loud and vociferous home support. They grabbed the lead after just 14 minutes as Bukayo Saka pounced on a loose ball before assisting Gabriel Jesus. He took one touch before firing the ball into the net to make it 1-0.
The visitors’ lead lasted just 11 minutes as a poor clearance from David Raya led to a chance for Lens. Elye Wahi played a lovely final ball towards Adrien Thomasson, who opened up his body before firing a curling effort into the far post to level the game.
Neither side were able to add to the scoreline as the teams were tied at 1-1 at the break.
RC Lens made a strong start to the second half as they looked confident with the backing of the home supporters. Despite having much lesser of the ball, they made the most of the chances that came their way. Elye Wahi attempted the only shot on target in the second period and put the hosts 2-1 up after 69 minutes with a lovely finish.
Arsenal, on the other hand, struggled to test Brice Samba between the sticks as they attempted five shots, of which four were saved by Lens’ captain. Arteta made multiple changes to try and level the game but Lens held on to secure a big win.
On that note, let’s take a look at the five major talking points from this contest.
#5. Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring with a clinical finish
Arsenal were sharp in the final third as their forwards pressed Lens each time they attempted to pass the ball out the back. Their pressure resulted in a loose ball which Bukayo Saka pounced upon.
The Englishman then rolled it towards Gabriel Jesus, who took a deft touch before guiding the ball into the bottom-left corner with a driven shot to make it 1-0 to the Arsenal.
It was an example of what Jesus is capable of doing when he gets a sniff of goal. Arteta and his staff will hope that the Brazilian can maintain his fitness levels throughout the season.
#4. Adrien Thomasson equalizes with a peach of a strike
David Raya attempted to clear the ball long following a spell of pressure by Lens. However, his clearances fell straight to the hosts’ midfielders as they brought it forward with an accurate pass.
The ball was played towards Elye Wahi, who was lurking around the 18-yard box. He then squared it to Thomasson, who continued his late run from the wing before applying a world class finish to make it 1-1.
#3. Bukayo Saka hobbles off with an injury in the first half
Having conceded their first away goal of the season, Arsenal were desperate to regain control of the contest. However, that became tougher as the clock ticked on, and worse when Saka was subject to a strong tackle that floored him.
He stayed down and looked to be in clear discomfort. Saka was replaced with Fabio Vieira as the Gunners continued in their quest to find another goal.
#2. Elye Wahi put Lens ahead with a lovely first-time finish
Having assisted his side’s equalizer, Wahi looked to make an impact in the final third and was constantly on the move. He made a lovely run into the box in the second period and applied a first-time finish to make it 2-1 to the hosts after 69 minutes.
Wahi was the star for Lens as he had a hand in both their goals. Despite not contributing much in other areas, he made the right decisions at the right moments that led to a win for the hosts over Arsenal.
These goal contributions were only Wahi’s second goal and second assist of the season in eight appearances so far, and are bound to give him confidence.
#1. Arsenal fall to their first defeat of the season
Arsenal have played 11 games so far this season and have lost just one of those after their reverse against Lens tonight.
Prior to this game, the Gunners hadn’t even conceded a single goal away from home across competitions. However, they had to face a double misfortune as they conceded two and subsequently lost the game.
Their next game is a Premier League clash against defending champions Manchester City on Sunday, October 8.