ARSENAL are looking to maintain their 100 per cent start in the Champions League when they head to France tonight.
That result moved Mikel Arteta team to within a point of the leaders.
However, they face a tough challenge as the focus switches back to Europe against last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up.
Arsenal celebrated their Champions League return with a 4-0 demolition of the Dutch giants PSV on the opening day at the Emirates.
But they will face a much stiffer test across the Channel later in Lens, who drew with Sevilla 1-1 a fortnight ago.
Franck Haise’s side have endured a mixed start domestically this term.
They have only managed two wins out of their opening seven matches in the top-flight.
But with French U21 forward Elye Wahi in their ranks, they always possess a threat.
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The 20-year-old, a club-record £30.3m summer signing from Montpellier, got 19 goals last season to earn his big-money switch.
And now he will go into the Arsenal clash full of confidence after ending his duck at Lens and scoring the winner at Strasbourg on Friday.
That result appears to have confirmed his side are back in the swing of things, and they will be desperate to take the scalp of Arsenal and bolster their hopes of advancing into the knockouts.
What is their form like?
Arsenal head into the clash still unbeaten in all competitions this campaign.
They have won every game apart from two – both of which were 2-2 home draws against Fulham and Tottenham respectively.
As for Lens, they finally got their first league victory on September 24.
But they followed that up with another one at Strasbourg and will now be desperate to make it three wins on the spin when the Gunners get to town.
What’s the team news and any injuries to worry about?
Lens are set to be without the likes of Wuilker Fairnez, Jimmy Cabot, David Costa and Massadio Haidara.
But Arteta is hoping winger Gabriel Martinelli could return to the Gunners squad on Tuesday after missing the last four games due to injury.
Bukayo Saka limped off in Arsenal’s 4-0 win away at Bournemouth on the weekend.
Arteta has eased fears over the extent of the damage and revealed he has travelled, but the England star may not be risked for the trip to France with the Gunners playing title rivals Manchester City on Sunday.
Thomas Partey has returned to training this week and could feature against Lens.
Who will be the star men?
With doubts of Saka, captain Martin Odegaard will once again be the man that Gooners will be looking to for some inspiration.
The Norwegian has been in stunning form so far this term and the midfielder grabbed his fifth goal of the season against Bournemouth.
Meanwhile, Wahi will be the man that Arsenal need to keep an eye on.
Despite his slow start, last week’s strike will have felt like a weight lifted from his shoulders.
And he will be desperate to continue his scoring exploits against the Prem giants.
What have the managers said?
Arteta was buoyed to have midfielder Thomas Partey on the verge of returning as he said: “Thomas has progressed really well in the last two weeks and he’s managed to train in the last two or three days with the team.
“That’s great news because he’s a big player for us and we know what he brings to the team.
“He might have some exposure against Lens depending how the game goes.
“He knows exactly what we need and with the injuries we had to other players in midfield and at the back he gives us options and complements us really well.”
Meanwhile, Haise is adamant that his men are the underdogs, saying: “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 St Germain, and we have got results.”
Arsenal just seem to keep on rolling and they will want to get qualification for the knockouts secured as early as possible.
They have a stronger squad than Lens and should have enough attacking threat to overcome their rivals.
And even though they may concede, Arteta’s side should still get the job done.
Prediction: Lens 1 Arsenal 2
When is Lens vs Arsenal?
- Lens vs Arsenal will take place on Tuesday, October 3rd.
- Kick off is set to take place at 8pm BST.
- The Estadio Bollaert-Delelis will host.
What TV channel is Lens vs Arsenal on and can it be live streamed?
- Lens vs Arsenal will be broadcast LIVE on TNT Sports 2.
- TNT Sports customers can live stream all the action via the discovery+ app.
- Alternatively, you can keep up to date with all of the action by following SunSport’s live blog.
What are the odds?
- Lens – 9/2
- Draw – 3/1
- Arsenal – 3/5
*Odds courtesy of Ladbrokes and are correct at the time of publication.