With an unbeaten start in the 2023/2024 Season, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side has been looking more and more promising to capture European and domestic titles this time around. After failing to win any major silverwares in 2022/2023, the Gunners notched eight wins and two draws in their opening ten matches this season, allowing themselves to be placed amongst the top three teams in the English Premier League so far. However, the North London side had to travel to France to face RC Lens in Matchday 2 of this year’s UEFA Champions League, and the latter came back from 1-0 down to beat the former at home, breaking Arsenal’s unbeaten start in 2023/2024.
Jesus’s Early Goal Was Not Enough to Extend Gunners’ Unbeaten Start
A couple of changes were spotted in the Arsenal camp, as Arteta brought on Takehiro Tomiyasu and Leandro Trossard for Ben White and Eddie Nketiah to prolong their unbeaten start to the new season in this game. On the other hand, the current 15th-placed French Ligue 1 side RC Lens had three changes from their starting lineup that saw off Strasbourg last time around.
Looking forward to extend their unbeaten start in 2023/2024 to 11 games, Arsenal broke the deadlock less than 15 minutes into the game. Right winger Bukayo Saka stole the ball from the opposition after a bad pass, and quickly fed Gabriel Jesus with a pass. The Brazilian forward then faked his defender and fired in only his second goal of the season into the bottom left corner.
Just when Arsenal thought they could build on Jesus’ goal to win consecutive UEFA Champions League games and increase their unbeaten start, RC Lens equalised before the half-hour mark. The equaliser came from another error in the match, this time happened to Arsenal’s new goalkeeper David Raya, who continued to start ahead of England shot stopper Aaron Ramsdale in goal for the Gunners. The 28-year-old loanee from Brentford had his clearance halted by Deiver Machado, before the Colombian crossed it into the penalty box for Elye Wahi. The Frenchman knew he did not have enough space to have an effort on goal and decided to head a pass for Adrien Thomasson to curl in a beautiful goal.
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Wonderful Wahi Spoilt Arsenal’s Unbeaten Start This Year
With Thomasson levelling things up between both teams, the 1-1 score remained for almost 45 minutes, until the home side of RC Lens earned their first lead of the game. The young striker Wahi turned from an assist provider into a goal scorer this time around. A series of passes from the home side allowed Przemysław Frankowski charged into the right side of the goal. The Polish international followed up his fantastic run with a whipped cross for Wahi, who hit it first time and scored his first ever goal in the UEFA Champions League. The young Frenchman’s effort proved to be the winner, as he broke Arsenal’s 10-game unbeaten start to the 2023/2024 Season.
Manchester City’s Next for Arsenal
Arsenal manager was not a happy man after their shocking loss to RC Lens that put a stop to their unbeaten start to this season. He said, “It’s true we didn’t generate enough threat in the final third. Like in many occasions, we didn’t provoke enough spaces. And just like in the PSV game, it was about the boxes. And we didn’t defend the box well enough to win the game. You don’t generate ten clear cut chances in the Champions League. When you get there, you have to put the ball in the back of the net. We have to defend the box much better than we have done.”
After their UEFA Champions League loss to RC Lens, Arteta’s Gunners, who are third in the English Premier League table, will be welcoming first-placed team and last season’s champions Manchester City for a Super Sunday fixture. Should Arsenal be able to win the match and their rivals Spurs drop points against Luton Town, they will have a chance to take over the Cityzens as the new Premier League leaders.