Arsenal take on the visitors Lens in the round 5 match of UEFA Champions League group stage. The match will be played on Wednesday, November 29th at Emirates Stadium (London).
Arsenal might settle for a draw to secure a spot in the playoffs. The last time the "Gunners" qualified for the Champions League was under Arsène Wenger. However, subsequent Arsenal managers, including the late Arsène, struggled to break into the top 4 of the Premier League. The breakthrough finally happened last season, and while their title bid against Manchester City fell short, securing a second-place finish exceeded all expectations. Currently, Zinchenko and his teammates aim to establish themselves in the leading group, having started the Premier League well. Nevertheless, it is evident that the priority, for which £100 million was spent on Rice and other new recruits, was the long-awaited Champions League. Arsenal have won it three times already, but their only slip-up occurred during a trip to France.
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Lens had a 2022/2023 campaign in France similar to Arsenal's in the Premier League: finishing as runners-up. However, they spent a considerable time in Ligue 2 until 2020. Currently, Frank Ezz and his team are not as convincing as they were in the previous season, and the start of this campaign was a failure. While they can somewhat rectify the situation in Ligue 1, their return to European competition after a quarter of a century has seen them secure only one sensational 2-1 victory at home against English opponents. Against Sevilla, they drew 1-1 away, shared points with PSV at home with the same score, and lost narrowly to the Dutch side 0-1 away.
The teams first crossed paths exactly 25 years ago in 1998, and the French side secured a victory and a draw, allowing them to advance to the playoffs with Dynamo Kyiv. However, Arsenal swiftly took revenge in the next season, albeit in the UEFA Cup, defeating them in the semi-finals. Arteta is clearly aiming for redemption at home. His team will likely accomplish the task of winning with a handicap of "-1.5 goals."
Prediction for the match: Arsenal to win with -1.5 handicap.