RC LENS – MATCH DAY BLOG

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Did I start a conspiracy theory about the Saka injury – promoting the idea that Mikel Arteta was in cahoots with Saka about his problem in a bid to throw Pep G off the selection trail for the weekend? I did. Unfortunately, my next-level galaxy brain thinking was incorrect… but the outcome was the same. Bukayo is READY and not injured. Is there a player in the league better at taking himself off before a breakdown? I don’t think so.

The bigger story here is that Bukayo has had injury scares twice in the past two weeks. He needs a rest. I’d really love him to fake an injury when we’re 3-0 up against City this weekend so he doesn’t have to go away on another international break.

Our second jaunt in the Champions League is upon us. RC Lens at Estadio Bollaert-Delelis should be an interesting test of Arteta and the players. My suspicion is the manager is prioritizing qualification for the next round as fast as possible so he can rest in the latter games. That means we’ll likely roll with a big starting 11 this evening. The manager COULD rest a key player or two but he can’t afford a slip before the biggest game of 2023.

My hope is we can get ahead in the game nice and early, kill Lens momentum, then sub key names out late on.

If Martinelli and Thomas Partey are to play a role on Sunday, you’d imagine they have to be on the flight out there and that they have to have some minutes. No player is equipped to start against City cold. A few late laps around the track in France could be enough.

Lens is a possession-based team, it’s slow build-up from the back, and they lean on springing fullbacks into action. Their model was very successful last season, putting them within spitting distance of PSG at the end of the season (1 point difference).

It’s been harder for them this season. They lost key players. Their game has been disrupted and they started poorly. This makes them perfect for Arsenal, we love gifting a coach a boost, so we’ll have to be sharp.

The most important thing tonight is to avoid anything terrible happening before Manchester City. I don’t even mind an away day draw as long as we don’t have an injury pile-up.

City play away in Germany against a RB ‘we don’t want the ball’ Leipzig. City are obviously better, but Leipzig will want to avenge an awful result in the Champions League earlier in the season. The Germans are in fine form, City are in a crisis by their standards, it’ll be interesting to see how Pep approaches the game.

Come join us right after the game… big love x

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Luteo Guenreira

Lens have lost 4 out of their 7 league games. I think Brentford levels is a compliment.

Think there was some complacency today, after the impressive CL re-debut against PSV. Going up against the 15th place Ligue 1 side probably thought it might be an easy game. One eye on City obviously. They better come out sharp this weekend.

Habesha Gooner

XG is 0.74 Lens, 1.01 Arsenal. That describes the game. We were awful at opening them up. But we still had the better chances to win the game.

Pierre

Both Lens goals were world class strikes that needed perfect technique with power that gave the keeper no chance Lack of any indiviuality on the ball cost us today، having 2 no.8’s who were happy to recycle the ball without taking any risks meant our creativity against an average team was virtually non existent… Declan Rice was superb، it’s just a pity that none of our offensive players had the confidence to put their foot on the ball to draw the defenders out. Losing a group game is not the end of the world، would rather lose this one than… Read more »

Leftside

You also cannot play Zinchenko if your going to play Havertz. Xhaka was a great help to him last season and he doesn’t receive that protection from Havertz this season.

Habesha Gooner

It could be worse. We could be United with 6 losses in 10. Cheer up dudes. We will still qualify.

TheLegendaryDB10

XG

Xtremelly Gutting I say.

into the red

Havertz – the new (late) Ozil. Paid a fortune, fannies about, no end product and endlessly talked up by the manager. And we are stuck with a huge long contract on him, like Ozil, with no club likely to take him off our hands. Why, for the love of god, did we pay the Chelsea asking price, with no negotiation or rival offers, then hand him a humungously large contract? Maddison is light years better, was cheaper and makes things happen. But no, not good enough for the genius manager, which probably means he wouldn’t be a little Arteta poodle,… Read more »

Left Testicle

xG

exGenerational

Left Testicle

And Havertz has the same Ozil ‘not interested’ body language.

Ernest Reed

Saka likely a real doubt for the ManCity match. Arteta really is a stubborn mug.

salparadisenyc

Habesha,

Thought it would be uglier with Lens a bit less and the Arsenal a bit more. Does paint the picture though.

Regarding City, have to say looks like we’ve the option of Partey, sure we’d of seen him tonight if we had lead. I’d go all in on the Partey/Rice/Ødegaard mid with Rice pushing further up in the Xhaka.

Ernest Reed

Saka off limping? CANT SAY I DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING!!

GD4

So irritating a performance and have to wait till Sunday to deal with that small matter of Man city.
Woe betide Arteta if he allows Havertz to set foot at the Emirates as a starter on Sunday

TR7

Havertz has had TWO shots on target in over 500 mins of football (one is a pen).

Ernest Reed

Arteta won’t be satisfied until Saka is completely broken. As long as he can move you know Arteta will play him. Then when he’s broken Arteta will blame everyone and everything other than himself.

Grinds my gears!

Jamie

Can’t wait for Nigel’s hot take after he’s rewatched the game 200 times without emotion or anxiety.

Pity the game wasn’t at the Emirates. AFC SuperBam would be here to tell us about the energy in the stadium (while in reality he’s watching in his basement and turning the volume up to 11).

Well in, lads.

TheLegendaryDB10

The problem with when we bought Havertz is that the stats said one thing, but the eye test says something completely different.

Havertz was not scouted. He was Opta scouted, and Arteta thought he could make a new world beater out of him biased on those stats that came out of it.

His purchase is looking like a huge mistake game after game.

We can all see this. But can Arteta?

Left Testicle

This stat from Arseblog…
Havertz attempted 19 passes, the same as Bukayo Saka who went off on the half hour mark.

Ernest Reed

Why Havertz was signed, when there were cheaper and better options available – that resides with both Edu and Arteta and whomever sanctioned the second coming of Pepe. Seems lessons are really hard learned.

Habesha Gooner

Sal
If Partey is fit I would do that too. We need better in midfield
And we need to create more. Against Man City though, they will come to play so we need to match them.

TR7
You are a huge fan of ESR and I can see why being a fan of Messi. We were severely lacking what ESR could do tonight. Just running with the ball with the intent of not turning back. Arteta has rigid systems that doesn’t allow for players like that and it is concerning.

into the red

Arteta, like Pedro, resorts to stats to ‘prove’ some kind magic no-one can see. The last resort of the pseudo football manager, same as the stats that ‘prove’ players can play 50 games a season without damage.

Mr Serge

Marko agreed no one should diss Rice he has been great
The midfield should be him patey and ode away from home they would control the game

TR7

The thing is for now Arteta can defend poor performances of Harvertz by throwing some galaxy brain jargons and logic but over a period of time his inability to contribute to our attacking play will become too obvious and apparent to defend.

Mr Serge

Left TesticleOctober 3, 2023 22:29:29
And Havertz has the same Ozil ‘not interested’ body language.

Without the guile and class of ozil on his day

Bankz

Wenger’s stubbornness and blatant refusal to adapt in his last few years as our manager was the beginning of his downfall. For some weird reasons you could make excuses for him because after all he is the “great Le professor”, the only manager to go invincible in the EPL with 3 PL titles to his name( even though at the end it looks a really poor outcome from his 2 decades with us). Arteta’s stubbornness and refusal to fully utilize the team at his disposal is the main reason (in my opinion) why we carefully wrapped up the title in… Read more »

Habesha Gooner

I knew signing Havertz was a bad idea in the first place. Now that I have seen him play, I can’t say I have changed my mind. He offers us very little in an attacking sense. The fact that Arteta wants a player that can offer that much creativity and game dictating abilities in his midfield is concerning to say the least. At least Xhaka was a high volume passer. The only thing I could say about Havertz is we haven’t got any worse defensively having him in the side. He does his bit winning duels and running. We have… Read more »

Ernest Reed

It’s not all doom and gloom, but it is troubling that after only 6 PL games, 2 CL games and 1 League Cup game that some players are playing injured. Looking at this objectively there is reasonable depth on the squad that if play is distributed properly, that this should not be happening this soon. Going to say it again and again, Arteta continues to not understand what man-management is about and worse, fails to continually recognize what playing in the red zone actually is. It’s going to be a long season on all fronts and you can’t really any… Read more »

Nigel Tufnel

I feel stupid for not knowing how tough Lens would be. They were organized and resolute, intelligent and patient. Against premier league teams, I never felt so impotent this season as we were trying to progress and create chances against them. Immediately Pierre calls Ødegaard a recycler and pins it on him. Horrible fan, probably a worse human being off the blogs to hate on a brilliant gunner like Øde for a Wenger type result. We did miss some chances though. I screamed on that Trossard shot. Somehow the defender cushioned it when I was sure it was going to… Read more »

Ernest Reed

As insightful as a bag of hammers there, Nigel! Gee but whiz are you a piece of work, bub.

Ernest Reed

As insightful as a bag of hammers there, Nigel! Gee but whiz you are quite the piece of work.

Jamie

“I feel stupid”

Nigel Tufnel, Oct 2023.

Got there in the end.

Ernest Reed

“I feel stupid for not knowing how tough Lens would be‘

They aren’t, it’s just that easy to play against Arteta. With players in the red zone you aren’t going to have a distinct talent advantage that you could have utilized if you manage playing workloads better.

Belfast Gooner

It’s disappointing that a team sitting fourth from bottom in Ligue 1, with twice as many defeats as wins, and with a -5 goal difference, are somehow too tough for us to overcome.

Un

Not the end of the world but arteta needs to learn fast here
His biggest problem is his ego and stubbornness. Far too clever sometimes when the simplest answer is the right one
He brings criticism on himself sometimes. There was no way Saka should have been starting today and ear should have been getting game time
Anything other than a city loss would be blinding this weekend however unlikely it is that we nick something.
He dropped the ball tonight for me

Un

Red zone is a bit dramatic
It’s 10 games

Nigel Tufnel

All the geniuses who are never wrong are here on legrove. It’s much more fun to shit on our manager and players than to credit a good performance from the team that lost their league by 1 point last season.

If fans like myself didn’t take them seriously enough out of ignorance, maybe our players were thinking about Manchester City.

izzo

Didn’t care to watch. Saka injured. I’ve been bang this drum for years. He was already injured yet he’s being played when we have capable players on the bench against fucking Lens. Tired of this nonsense. Arteta will kill all our top players before the new year. We were expecting rotation but no not with this control freak playing injured players. Before anyone starts mouthing off about our medical team take a look at Timber and shut the fuck up!

salparadisenyc

Europe always seems brings out the beast in some clubs, Lens is one of them when they manage to get onto the big stage. Great atmosphere and took two of the three chances they had extremely well. Both those goals had fantastic finishes, we can’t say the same for ourselves and thats the difference.

Bankz

I agree, easiest decision Arteta has to make at moment is shifting Rice further up into the Xhaka space with Partey pinning. If he is hell bent on Havertz featuring it can be a sub into the #9.

Wengaball

I can’t make up my mind if Arteta is a good coach or not such a good coach.

His numbers say good.

The eye test says not so good.

A bit like Havertz.

Raulishuss

Sorry state in here. Bunch of weirdos expecting us to go unbeaten all season. Wankers

Luteo Guenreira

I’ve been waiting for the Rice Partey.

Rice Partey Odegaard can be a world class midfield.

Matt B

Bankz: Great post, agree with every word, but what you doing up there as post #500 or whatever

salparadisenyc

“I’ve been waiting for the Rice Partey.”

How is this not a Prince song.

Bertie Mee

Don’t slag Havertz off. I’ve been consistently reading how wonderful he is on here . Edu pissed £100 m up the wall on Havertz and Vieira . We could have signed Maddison, Diaby and Gimenez for not much more .
Edu has bought more duds than successes and then gives them away when they’ve failed

salparadisenyc

New look Bankz, late and long.

I’m here for it.

allezkev

I really didn’t expect to see the Arsenal give up their unbeaten start to this season at a club like RC Lens, but then alternatively I didn’t expect either to see Man City lose at Wolves or Man Utd lose almost every week or to see Chelsea flirting with the relegation zone.

It’s been a very odd season so far…

Emiratesstroller

The performance tonight was poor and some of the players were clearly very tired. Saka is being overplayed by Arteta.

The real problem is that our attacking options are clearly not good enough.
Nketiah is one dimensional.
Nelson is not a wing replacement
Vieira continues to be lightweight and underwhelming.

It is high time that Smith-Rowe is given more game time. He is certainly a better option than Vieira.

The club are in my view short of at least three players. We need a top class striker and squad cover
on wing and at full back in absence of Timber.

Leftside

Right on cue Raul, classy as ever.

Guns of SF

PSV saved us kinda with the draw

MidwestGun

Didn’t expect us to go unbeaten… but we gave up a lead and failed to get the point.. Fair bit of disappointment is pretty standard. I would think. That said not really worried about the group.

Too many Swiss army knives .in the toolbox and not enough hammers is what it feels like and a set blueprint of subs when flexibility is warranted.

Still baffled by Vieira on the wing for Saka? what was that?. Saka going down so we just picked the next name on the list is the vibe I got.

Mysticleaves

Commenters here have been banging Viera’s drum for the past 2/3 weeks and people like Rich may have already started telling people how wrong there were and how right he is. I always wondered what that was about. Viera has shown nothing that makes him close to being ready to play in this team or in the PL. Making 2 assists and a shot when brought on towards the end of a game in a chaotic setting isn’t the metrics to measure players. I have never seen Viera have a good game that he’s started for us or played systematically,… Read more »

Emiratesstroller

Mysticleaves

I don’t see anything in Vieira’s performance level, which merits a place in our squad and it beggars
believe that Arteta believes that he is better than Smith-Rowe.

Smith-Rowe may not be a starting eleven player in our current set up, but he is certainly worth more game time than Vieira and he showed that he is prepared to shoot when the opportunity arises.

Vieira plays like a “rabbit in the headlights'” and is utterly ineffective.

salparadisenyc

If Arteta doesn’t button up that Zinchenko space when he drifts into a more central mid role (which benefits us imo giving another dimensions) City are going to eat us alive regardless of personal.

Xhaka covered that space so well last season, we can’t say same for Havertz who often drifts forward waiting for the ball and we’re exposed.

Mysticleaves

Well said ES. Your thoughts on Eddie is shared too. It’s a bit difficult for me to accept Eddie is not the one cos of his links to our academy. I really wanted him to be given plenty chances. I thought he would be better than this. But frankly speaking, it’s not working out for him and the club. It’s true that there’s a creative vacuum in our team presently. Maybe it’s the reason Eddie isn’t performing or just maybe he’s not up to standard. Either ways it’s not working. Why our strikers under perform in terms of goals should… Read more »

Freddie Ljungberg

Tbf Eddies links to the academy isn’t that strong. He got released by Chelsea at 16 for not being good enough and we took him on. It’s not like ESR, Saka etc that’s been with us since they were little kids. We needed someone in that left 8 that offered about the same defensively as Xhaka, with more pace, and offered more creatively. We only got half the package so far, if that. We’re way too easily stifled when we only have Ode in midfield that can create. Rice has done really well since he came but he’s not as… Read more »

Nigel Tufnel

Raulishuss on the money as usual.

Chris

Very disappointed with the result tonight.

Why is it Arsenal generally struggle so much in Europe under Arteta. The PSV game being the exception.

Ernest Reed

“ If fans like myself didn’t take them seriously enough out of ignorance, maybe our players were thinking about Manchester City.‘

Then they are fucking idiots, Nigel. You play one game at a time, the current one. Stop making ridiculous excuses, you know nothing and every time you write something you only reaffirm it.

Ernest Reed

You harp on Pierre pretty much all the time Nigel. Difference is that you show up to a gunfight with a knife. Pierre pretty much shows up to a gunfight with a gun and uses it.You should just quietly go away before you hurt yourself.

Ernest Reed

“Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says forward Bukayo Saka’s injury is “a worry” ‘

Surprising response considering he’s been pretty much oblivious to Saka’s well-being for weeks now.

If Saka can walk on Sunday you know Mik’s gonna play him. The kid pretty much has to be dead for Arteta to realize what 99.999% of everyone else has known for some time now…he needs some real rest!

salparadisenyc

“Pierre pretty much shows up to a gunfight with a gun and uses it.”

LMAO…ok.

G8

Both goals we conceded could have been avoided if the midfield was alert enough to spot the runners Obviously, the first goal came from an awful kick by Raya, but it could have been prevented if the midfield did its defensive duty. Rice was substandard tonight, ode can’t do it on his own, and Kai was useless. I swear l counted 15 mins of us trying to pass the ball around the edge of their box when we were 2/1 down and no player wanted to take the risk of playing the ball in the danger area, or take a… Read more »

Luteo Guenreira

Ernest showing up to a blog with a bad analogy and using it.

China1

Since the game was too late for me my take lacks the specifics but also lacks the emotion Some points tho Saka injury was really really brain dead from arteta. Last guy on the planet who thinks saka must start every game is the one with the power to pick him Re the result I am hopeful it will have a galvanizing effect on the players and ensure they don’t go into the upcoming league and CL matches complacent At least if you’re gonna lose a game, let it be away in the CL group stages where we should still… Read more »

Ernest Reed

You may not like what he has to say Sal, but at least he stands by it. I don’t care much for Pierre, especially when he plays his Bug Eyes Ozil card, but I admire the fact that he sticks to his guns. Whereas Thought Police Nigel demands you play by his rules. The only thing more laughable than that is your ridiculous support of him.

Ernest Reed

You lost me there Luteo Gonorreah

Ernest Reed

“ At least if you’re gonna lose a game, let it be away in the CL group stages where we should still be breezing through the group‘

The support that Lens got was a massive boost. Those supporters were their all game China, loud and boisterous. That’s tough to play against.

Ernest Reed

Off topic a bit, but heard the audio from the Liverpool VAR debacle. Someone’s got to lose their job over that one, it reeks of incompetence like nothing before. Stunning ineptitude from the crew.

GD4

I hope when Timber is back healthy we can just move Zinchy to the #8 spot where he Belongs and let Jurrien invert. I’m tired of seeing Havertz and Viera on the field. I’d sell em for a loss and give away Jorginho for free.

Need a pacy winger so bad or at least someone who can attempt to dribble and actually beat a fullback one vs one. How we messed up when we spent money on Pepe when Zaha was literally all packed up and ready to come here smh

GD4

Havertz is like a recurring nightmare of Denilson and Ozil (sans the eyes for a killer pass). Just a waste of bloody space … as if we didn’t watch the joker flounder for three seasons at Chelsea ti understood he was not worth the money

Ernest Reed

Apologies Luteo, I just saw the auto-fill. Truly sorry for that awful butchering of your last name.

Should read – you lost me there Luteo Guenreira.

GD4

Damn.
Just watched the United highlights.
Thank God Arsenal didn’t listen to those on LeGrove who were crowing for Onana.
They traded DDG for that dude?
Yikes!

Nigel Tufnel

Ernest moans about everything. One of les miserables.
Nobody made an excuse. You also cry when people say Lens were really up for it and executed very well.

You just keep crying and attacking people. Results like last night are made for sad/angry/bitter cases like you to come out of your cave and spew at the world. Enjoy it while it lasts.

China1

Yeah Ernest I mean we’re gonna drop points and lose against inferior teams sometimes

But on paper this kind of match is as painless as it realistically can be, ASSUMING we don’t shit the bed and balls up the group from here

Win the next 2 matches and we’re basically home and dry, tho obviously much prefer we win the group to avoid tougher opponents next round

Madhu

Arteta says that Saka was fit to play. Can anyone tell Arteta that he is allowed to rest saka even if he is ready to play or is there anything in the contract which binds him to play if he is fit. Last game he came away after a knock and then he plays him again today. Come on with a Man C game.on the horizon. Atleast start with Riess and then get Saka late in the game like 5 mins before full time for hsi usual.sub. this is ridiculous management and I question his coaching staff. Is there nobody… Read more »

China1

Man city drew with Dortmund and more notably Copenhagen in the CL group stages last season

So as long as we come back firing and win this group, I’m not too bothered about this one result

Madhu

By the way is Saka plays any misn against City he will go to International break and play two games for England. That has to be in the mix selecting teb team.

Guns of SF

Madhu wassup bro,

What gets me is that every game Saka takes a knock out punch and leaves the game. Then he is fit for the next game.
Then another knockout

This is like three in a row now.
But no, Saka will be fit against City. Clearly he is not. Will Mike rest him?
I think you know the answer

Mysticleaves

“We needed someone in that left 8 that offered about the same defensively as Xhaka, with more pace, and offered more creatively. We only got half the package so far, if that” Watching Madison thread excellent through balls between the lines against Liverpool and knowing he was available to buy for 40m makes it much worse to stomach. China I agree that we can lose the game yesterday and still qualify. The problem is, we can easily not qualify from this group as it is set. When the draw was made most people here were excited at our chances but… Read more »

Guns of SF

I think Freddie said or WE said that for the cost of Kai and Fabio we could have got Bellingham cost wise.
But then again, if Real comes calling you go

Madhu

GoF bro doing good. I think it’s a lot of molly coddlying of Arteta and not enough questions asked. Yeah he has got the team so far but that’s not a free pass. We keep saying lessons learnt my question is have we especially in game.mgmt and player mgmt?

Siddeeq

Raumdeuter Havertz

Guns of SF

Madhu those questions have been there since day 1 of his tenure.
Nothing changing there. Its who he is.
Unless we completely tank this season, Mike going nowhere.
The issue is, does he even know he has this weakness?
Anyone tell him?
Can he figure out on his own? even a little bit?
what is getting in the way of him addressing this weakness

Madhu

GOF precisely I don’t know what his is support staff doing. If they can’t question him or have contractual opinion then they are not doing thier job

Madhu

Contrary opinion

Wicked Willy

For anyone feeling a little down after the defeat and the injury, it might be worth reading this outstanding article on the state of Man Utd. It is pure poetry!

https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2023/oct/04/what-stage-are-we-at-in-manchester-uniteds-endless-theatre-of-pain

Gonsterous

Work and saw the result. Wasn’t disappointed with it. Saw the line up and now I’m fuming.
Should have rested key players in rice, saka and ode.

Play jorginho, esr and even kiwior and we would have won. Arteta needs to trust his squad against teams like PSV and lens. Why are we fielding our full 11 in these type of games?

Gonsterous

I’ve been stating it for weeks but saka looks like he needs a 2 weeks break. Let him pack his bags after the city game and let him go relax on the beach for a few days.
Lad has been playing non stop football for 2 years now.

Guns of SF

at this rate saka is due for a major one.
I saw the lineup and was like ok, we need to win this one to go top of the group but we lost Saka and who knows if he will be ready for City.
Wait, I think I know the answer LOL

Madhu

Spoiler alert Saka will play both England games. If we can’t protect our own asset why will Southgate care?

Guns of SF

Now what I would like to see is after the city game, reports come out that he did his hammy, back or something less obvious… and misses the England games. Teams fake shit like that all the time

Madhu

GoF knowing Arteta you think he would do that?

Guns of SF

Madhu, I dont know but its possible.
But beating city is probably what keeps mike awake at night, so I guess Saka does play.
After this loss, I hope the team itself motivates itself to do battle with City.
I would pray that Kai sits on the bench to start.
TP and Rice together are mandatory against them
double pivot please

MG42

The Excuseniks are slowly showing up, Raul & Nigel how did you enjoy this shit show today? Waiting for Bob & AFC superfan to post their excuses when it is so simple. 1. Who got Raya into the No 1 GK because he thought he was better with his feet then Ramsdale? How did that work out today? What will happen at the end of the season, finalize the loan, bringing back Ramsdale? This conversation should never have happened. 2. Who spent £65mill on Havertz to play him in a position he hasn’t played in for over 3 years? 3.… Read more »

Madhu

GoF I like the double.pivot with Ode as 10 and complete freedom to play vertical balls and crash the box and take shots. Zin can invert and form a block of 3 in the midfield Just don’t loose the game.

Madhu

City without Rodri in the midfield , we should flood the midfield and overpower them.

Guns of SF

imagine bellingham as our left sided 8
SMH

Leftside

If Saka is fit he is always going to play for Arsenal and England. The respective managers of both teams will select him. The issue is, that is the third time in as many games that he has had to leave the field. It was always a risk, and to us unnecessary but most likely not to Arteta. It won’t be lost on him that the only time we really looked like scoring and actually did was when Saka was on the field. I imagine that he will probably be fit for City but if he’s carrying something next time… Read more »

MG42

if the season goes south because Saka has a lengthy injury spell the excuseniks will have a field day and Arteta was saved again by a hale ender.

Guns of Hackney

Goodnight and thank you. Someone turn the lights off on our season.

City will destroy us.