Preview: Arsenal vs RC Lens – prediction, team news, line-ups

Arsenal will be looking to settle the scores against RC Lens when both sides lock horns at the Emirates Stadium for Wednesday’s crunch Champions League group stage encounter.

The Gunners have all but secured safe passage to the knockout rounds, but one point from the midweek encounter will rubberstamp their place in the last 16.

With fans scrambling to secure a coveted spot in the stands, those yet to purchase tickets to the game can buy sold-out Champions League tickets from Seatsnet at competitive prices.

Mikel Arteta’s men have collected nine points from a possible 12 to assume an unassailable position at the summit of Group B. 

However, they cannot afford to rest on their laurels, considering their only setback came against the Ligue 1 side.

Bukayo Saka propelled Arsenal to a 2-0 victory over Sevilla in their last Champions League outings, putting the Gunners on the brink of a last-16 slot.

Arteta’s side put the Europa League title holders to the sword courtesy of a first-half effort from Leandro Trossard – teed up by Saka, who then sealed maximum points with a composed second-half finish.

Arsenal have established a four-point lead over Lens and PSV Eindhoven at the summit of Group C, and a point in Wednesday’s contest will ensure a top-two finish for Arteta’s side.

Furthermore, victory against Les Sang et Or would ensure the Gunners clinch a round of 16 slot as Group C winners.

Arteta will undoubtedly be eager for his side to right the wrongs of their previous defeat to Lens, but even in the event of a second setback, Arsenal’s place in the knockout stage will be confirmed if PSV lose to Sevilla.

The Gunners are aiming to extend their three-match winning streak after overcoming Brentford in their most recent Premier League encounter at the Gtech Community Stadium.

They survived a couple of nervy moments from Aaron Ramsdale, who returned to the starting line-up with David Raya ineligible to feature against his parent club.

After struggling to break down a resilient Brentford backline, Kai Havertz emerged as the unlikely hero for the Gunners, heading home a back-post cross from Saka.

Netting his first goal from open play and only his second in Arsenal colours, Havertz’s strike propelled the Gunners to the top of the Premier League table, surging ahead of Manchester City and Liverpool.

In addition to extending their winning streak to three games across all competitions, Arteta’s side maintained their unbeaten run at the Emirates (W5, D2) and are one of only four sides in the division yet to lose on home turf this season.

Heading into the Champions League campaign, Lens were considered Group C underdogs, largely because they were marking a return to the tournament after a 20-year hiatus.

Despite their massively underwhelming start to the Ligue 1 campaign, Franck Haise’s men have lit up the Champions League after going unbeaten in their opening three games (W1, D2), including a shocking 2-1 victory over Arsenal in France.

Lens saw their unbeaten start to their Champions League campaign snapped in their previous 1-0 defeat to PSV and head into the midweek clash against Arsenal in third place.

While they would be dreaming of a historic last-16 berth, a third-place finish will be enough for Haise’s troops to punch their ticket to the Europa League play-offs.

Lens faces a crucial fixture against Arsenal, and their hopes of a top-two finish hinge on the outcome as defeat to the Gunners, coupled with a victory for PSV over Sevilla, would have catastrophic consequences for their last-16 ambitions.

Despite the recent defeat to PSV where a Luuk de Jong header proved to be the point of difference, Lens heads to North London on the back of consecutive victories and clean sheets against Marseille and Clermont Foot in their last two Ligue 1 matches.

Their defensive resilience have been on show over the last couple of weeks, with De Jong’s header the only goal Haise’s men have conceded in their previous five games across all competitions.

Additionally, the loss to PSV marks their only defeat in their last 12 fixtures across all competitions, which could serve as a much-needed confidence boost ahead of the crucial Arsenal clash.

Match Preview


Arsenal’s history against Lens in the Champions League remains one of elusive victories, with three encounters resulting in one draw and two defeats, marking their longest winless streak against a single opponent in the competition.

Since Arteta’s first European home defeat in February 2020 (1-2 against Olympiakos in the Europa League), the Arsenal manager has steered his team through a formidable run at the Emirates.

Out of his last 12 continental home games, Arteta suffered only one defeat (W8, D3), which bodes well for their chances of ending their winless streak against Lens.

The Gunners have also emerged victorious in five of their last six home fixtures across all competitions and will be eager to extend the impressive streak when Lens visit north London.


The only experience Lens have from facing Premier League opposition in continental tournaments have all come against Arsenal (W2, D1, L2) so they’re familiar with the Gunners.

However, their most recent away clash with the Gunners stretches back to April 2000 during a UEFA Cup semi-final at Highbury, where Lens succumbed to a 1-0 defeat courtesy of a Dennis Bergkamp strike.

Lens visit Arsenal for the first time in over two decades, knowing anything other than victory will have devastating consequences for their Champions League ambition.

Nonetheless, they’d be brimming with confidence, considering they’re unbeaten in 11 of their last 12 matches across all competitions (W6, D5) since snapping their three-game losing streak back in September. 

Team News

Arsenal head into the midweek showdown without any new injury concerns. Thomas Partey, Jurrien Timber, and Emile Smith Rowe remain sidelined, although the latter is edging closer to a return to action.

David Raya is set to make a comeback in the goalkeeping department, reclaiming his position after Ramsdale’s less-than-convincing performance against Brentford.

After his crucial last-minute winner against Brentford, Kai Havertz is anticipated to retain his spot, while Gabriel Jesus will be keen to add to his tally after scoring in the previous Champions League games against Lens and Sevilla.

On the Lens side, they have received a boost with Kevin Danso returning to fitness, while Elye Wahi will be itching to continue his impressive Champions League form.

Arsenal potential starting line-up: 

(4-3-3): David Raya; Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Martin Odegaard, Declan Rice, Kai Havertz; Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard, Gabriel Martinelli.

Lens potential starting line-up: 

(3-4-2-1): Brice Samba; Facundo Medina, Kevin Danso, Jonathan Gradit; Ruben Aguilar, Salis Abdul Samed, Nampalys Mendy, Przemyslaw Frankowski; Adrien Thomasson, Florian Sotoca; Elye Wahi.

We Say: Arsenal 2-1 Lens

While Lens secured victory over Arsenal in the reverse fixture, the Gunners had an off night, which is unlikely to repeat itself in front of their home fans. 

Despite Lens’ newfound defensive resilience, we can envisage a narrow victory for Arteta’s troops as they vie for both qualification and the top spot.

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