Today perceived as a clash of extremes, Franck Haise’s men have history on their side and are determined to continue the legend.
A short but intense past between Lens and Arsenal
It may be hard to believe, but the Sang et Or have never lost an official match against the London club. Indeed, Arsenal and Lens have already faced each other during the 1998-1999 European campaign, and the direct confrontations in the group stage favored Lens.
It was September 16, 1998, when Lens hosted the Gunners on the first day of the group stage at a boiling Stade Bollaert. However, the Lens fervor took a hit after Marc Overmars opened the scoring in the 51st minute with a subtle shot, but Lens needed much more to give up. Inspired by Tony Vairelles, the Lens players equalized in stoppage time with a corner kick at the near post, cut by the French striker.
A few weeks later, on the fifth matchday, Lens traveled to Anglo-Saxon lands. The match was equally contested, and the outcome was decided in the 72nd minute when Michaël Debève, lurking at the far post, pounced on a poorly angled shot. The double expulsion of Ray Parlour and Tony Vairelles did not change the Lens victory.
Sept. 16, 1998: RC Lens 1 – 1 Arsenal
Nov. 25, 1998: Arsenal 0 – 1 RC Lens
A shorter journey than expected…
Despite this Franco-English double confrontation, Lens’ 1998-1999 European season was not particularly successful. As the only French club in the competition, Lens finished second in their group after a decisive defeat against Dynamo Kiev but was still eliminated from the competition (only the two best second-placed teams from each group advanced). Arsenal, finishing third, also didn’t progress further in the competition.
Lens may have a favorable history against Arsenal, but it’s important to note that past results do not guarantee future success. Football is a dynamic sport, and both teams have evolved since their last encounter. Arsenal, with its rich history and talented squad, will undoubtedly pose a formidable challenge for Lens.
However, Lens can take inspiration from their previous victories and use it as motivation to overcome the odds. The belief that they have what it takes to defeat Arsenal can instill confidence in the players and drive them to perform at their best.
Additionally, Lens has been performing admirably in the French Ligue 1, currently sitting in a respectable position. This form and momentum can give them an extra edge going into the match against Arsenal.
Lens may have a historical advantage over Arsenal, but it will ultimately come down to the performance on the day. Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses, and it will be a battle of tactics, skill, and determination. Lens will need to bring their A-game and capitalize on any opportunities that come their way if they want to come out on top. Only time will tell if they can continue their legendary streak against the Gunners.
Ce but est historique pour le RC Lens ! 🔴🟡
En 1998, Vairelles marquait le premier but des Lensois en Ligue des Champions, lors du match nul contre Arsenal à Bollaert ⚽️
25 ans plus tard, les Sang et Or peuvent-ils réitérer cette performance ❓ pic.twitter.com/ON2WQVwcKY
— CANAL+ Foot (@CanalplusFoot) October 2, 2023