Arsenal: Raya, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Rice, Odegaard, Havertz, Saka, Jesus, Trossard
Subs: Ramsdale, Hein, White, Kiwior, Cedric, Smith Rowe, Partey, Jorginho, Vieira, Elneny, Nelson, Nketiah
It was a disappointing night for Arsenal who suffered their first defeat of the season after losing 2-1 to Lens, despite an early goal from Gabriel Jesus.
Mikel Arteta made two changes to the side that beat Bournemouth on Saturday, with Takehiro Tomiyasu and Leandro Trossard coming in to replace Ben White and Eddie Nketiah.
Backed by an electric atmosphere at Estadio Bollaert-Delelis, Lens started brightly and fashioned two half-chances with Kevin Danso and Adrien Thomasson both firing wide from close range.
But Arsenal were ahead after just 14 minutes when Bukayo Saka pounced on a misplaced pass from Thomasson, before finding Gabriel Jesus who took two touches and fired expertly past Brice Samba. 1-0.
The Gunners almost doubled their lead moments later when Kai Havertz saw his side-footed volley well saved by Samba, only for Lens to pounce on a mistake themselves – this time from David Raya who surrendered possession far too casually – and equalise through Thomasson. 1-1.
There was more bad news for Arsenal when Saka was forced off through injury after signalling to the bench with 33 minutes played, which will leave Arteta sweating ahead of Manchester City’s visit to Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Despite having 69% possession during the first half, the visitors struggled to create clear-cut opportunities with just three shots to Lens’ six who did look threatening on the break.
Just minutes into the second half, the Gunners were close to restoring their lead when Leandro Trossard did brilliantly to cut inside Jonathan Gradit and fire at goal, only for Samba to save his low strike when it looked destined for the bottom corner.
That early chance couldn’t inspire Arsenal, however, and it was Lens who went closest to scoring when more sloppiness in possession was almost punished by Salis Abdul Samed who fired into the side netting with Gabriel caught out of position.
Samba was called into action again to save from Tomiyasu but it was Lens who eventually took the lead, when Przemysław Frankowski capitalised on some poor Oleksandr Zinchenko defending to find Elye Wahi, whose first-time finish curled past Raya and into the corner. 2-1.
There were still 20 minutes to play when Wahi scored but Arsenal were slow and ponderous in possession – a consistent theme all evening – and could not break down Lens’ five-man defence who were compact throughout.
The Gunners were close to salvaging a point late on when Reiss Nelson found himself free in the box after good work from Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah, only to be denied by incredible last-ditch defending from Gradit who stopped a certain goal.
Lens defended manfully to deter more late scrambles and secured three points which their performance deserved, while Arsenal and Arteta head back to the drawing board ahead of Manchester City on Sunday.