Lens vs Arsenal: Champions League preview, team news and prediction

By on September 30, 2023


Arsenal continue their Champions League group stage campaign when they take on Lens at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Tuesday night.

The Gunners returned to Europe’s elite competition this season after six long years in the wilderness. While Mikel Arteta was devastated to miss out on the Premier League title last season, Champions League qualification was always the main aim and Arsenal achieved that goal comfortably after finishing second behind Man City.

The north Londoners were handed a favourable draw after being pitted in Group B against Sevilla, PSV Eindhoven and Lens. Arsenal thrashed PSV 4-0 in their opening group game thanks to goals from Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard, Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard. Arteta will now look to continue that form with another victory in the North of France to take control of the group.

Since beating PSV almost two weeks ago, Arsenal have maintained their unbeaten record in the Premier League. We were held to a frustrating 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham in the North London Derby. Despite taking the lead twice, we couldn’t hold out for the three points as a poor mistake from Jorginho gifted Spurs a draw at the Emirates.

We then beat Brentford 1-0 in the Carabao Cup thanks to an early Reiss Nelson strike. Arsenal warmed up for the trip to Lens by thrashing Bournemouth 4-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Saka headed home the opening goal before Odegaard made it 2-0 from the penalty spot. Kai Havertz made it 3-0 from another penalty after the players gave the German international the opportunity to score his first goal for the club since arriving from Chelsea in the summer. Havertz made no mistake from 12 yards before Ben White headed home a late fourth to secure the comfortable win.

The victory has seen Arsenal climb to third in the table – level on points with Tottenham and just one point behind leaders Man City after their shock defeat at Wolves. So the Gunners are going well in the league and will hope to transfer that form to Europe when we take on Lens on Tuesday evening.

Lens were the surprise package in Ligue 1 last season as they somehow finished second in the table with 84 points, just one point behind PSG, to qualify for the Champions League. They’ve struggled to replicate that kind of form this season, however. They spent the opening weeks in the bottom three after winning just one of their opening six league games. However, a narrow 1-0 win over Strasbourg on Friday night has moved them up to 13th in the standings. The French outfit also got a very useful 1-1 draw away to Sevilla in their Group B opener, so they shouldn’t be underestimated.

How to watch

The game will be broadcast live on TNT Sport on Tuesday night. Subscribers can watch on TV, or via the app on their laptop or smartphone. If you want to attend the game in person, you can buy tickets on Seatsnet but be quick as the match should be sold out and Arsenal are expected to take a strong travelling support with them to France.

Team news

Arsenal have plenty of injury concerns to worry about heading into the game. Saka returned to start against Bournemouth after missing the EFL Cup win over Brentford due to a knock. However, the winger limped off midway through the second half after picking up a fresh injury so he’s a major doubt to face Lens on Tuesday night.

Gabriel Martinelli has missed Arsenal’s last four games after suffering a hamstring injury against Everton earlier this month. The Brazilian international is still not back in training so he remains a bid doubt for the Champions League clash in France. Leandro Trossard has also been carrying a muscle issue lately and missed the win over Brentford. He was an unused substitute against Bournemouth but should be back in contention to feature against Lens.

Thomas Partey is still working his way back from a groin injury that’s hampered him for the last month. The Ghanaian international is expected to be back after the October international break so he’ll remain on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.

Jurrien Timber is another long-term absentee for Arsenal. The defender completed a big-money move from Ajax in the summer and looked to have settled well in London. However, he suffered a serious ACL injury on his Premier League debut against Nottingham Forest and could be out for the season.

As for Lens, Jimmy Cabot is out with a long-term knee injury while Wuilker Farinez is also on the sidelines with a knee problem. Portuguese midfielder David Costa is also expected to miss the game with a shoulder issue. Massadio Haidara is also a doubt with a thigh problem.

Likely line-ups

Arteta is expected to name a strong side and will resist the temptation to rest players ahead of next weekend’s huge clash with Man City. David Raya should keep his place ahead of Aaron Ramsdale in goal with the back four unchanged from the Bournemouth game. That means Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel and Oleksandr Zinchenko should start in defence.

We may see Havertz making way for Fabio Vieira in midfield, despite the German getting on the scoresheet last time out. Jorginho could come in if Arteta wants to protect Declan Rice – who had a back issue ahead of the weekend and the last thing we need is him aggrevating it ahead of the City game. Saka is unlikely to be risked from the start after picking up a knock against Bournemouth so Trossard should be recalled to start in attack alongside Jesus and Eddie Nketiah in the Arsenal attack.

Possible Arsenal XI: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Rice, Vieira; Nketiah, Jesus, Trossard

Possible Lens XI: Samba; Gradit, Danso, Medina; Frankowski, Abdul Samed, Mendy, Machado; Sotoca, Fulgini; Wahi


Arsenal are obviously a much stronger team on paper but Lens shouldn’t be taken too lightly, especially away from home. Arteta’s side looked excellent against Bournemouth and were back to their free-flowing best going forward.

If Arsenal can produce a similar performance on Tuesday night, we should have far too much quality for the French outfit. The injuries are a concern and I would be open to resting a few key players ahead of the City game. Our squad should be more than capable of getting a positive result at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

We’ll have to wait and see what Arteta does but no matter what team is put out, I’m confident Arsenal will bring home all three points. Lens 0-2 Arsenal