Champions League Nightmares: Arsenal’s and Manchester
Champions League Nightmares: Arsenal’s Turbulence and Manchester United’s Shocking Collapse
Arsenal experienced a turbulent night in the Champions League, with Bukayo Saka leaving the pitch injured during their defeat in Lens. The team’s journey to France was plagued by bad weather, grounding Mikel Arteta and his players at Luton Airport for an agonizing five hours on Monday.
Their hopes of securing a smooth qualification for the knockout stages took a hit when Lens came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory at the vibrant Stade Bollaert-Delelis.
Gabriel Jesus appeared to provide Arsenal with a lifeline, breaking the deadlock with his 22nd Champions League goal. However, the evening took an unexpected turn as a mistake from goalkeeper David Raya allowed Adrien Thomasson to level the score.
Saka’s unfortunate departure from the field marked his third injury in just nine days, raising concerns for Arsenal. Elye Wahi then sealed the win with a goal 20 minutes before the final whistle, reshaping the dynamics of Group B. Arsenal now faces a challenging trip to take on the Europa League champions, Sevilla, later this month.
💬 "We knew that was going to be a battle, you see the atmosphere, you see the team that they are, what they have done last season."— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 3, 2023
Mikel discusses the difficult result against RC Lens 👇
This was Lens’ first home Champions League game in over two decades, and their fans made sure to make the most of the occasion. A massive tifo, flares, and an impressive wall of sound welcomed the kick-off, and their team wasted no time in taking on Arsenal aggressively. Kevin Danso narrowly missed the target with a shot after a corner, despite Lens’ energetic start.
Despite the early setback for the hosts, Arsenal managed to take the lead through Jesus, who neatly slotted the ball into the bottom corner after Saka was gifted possession due to a sloppy backpass. The passionate atmosphere inside the stadium continued despite Lens falling behind, and their fervent support was rewarded with an equalizer.
Raya, positioned outside his box, attempted to distribute the ball into midfield, but his pass was intercepted, and moments later, he was beaten by a splendid curling strike from Thomasson, leveling the match. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Saka suffered another injury, leading to his substitution by Fabio Vieira, with a match against Manchester City on the horizon.
Leandro Trossard threatened the Lens goal with a well-placed shot early in the second half, as Arsenal aimed to regain their lead. However, the Ligue 1 side began to assert control over the game, with Abdul Samed’s shot into the side-netting serving as a warning.
As the match opened up, Takehiro Tomiyasu had a golden opportunity to convert a corner but could only direct his shot straight at Mendy. Lens seized the lead through Wahi, who finished calmly past Raya following another break down the right flank.
In response, Arteta made an immediate triple substitution, introducing Ben White while replacing the ineffective Trossard and Kai Havertz with Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson. Despite these changes, Samba, the Lens goalkeeper, remained largely untroubled for the rest of the night, punching clear a Smith Rowe effort, with Arsenal failing to create a clear-cut chance to salvage a point.
Meanwhile, Manchester United suffered a shocking, error-riddled 3-2 defeat at home to Galatasaray, extending their troubled start to the season. After losing their Group A opener at Bayern Munich and suffering their fourth defeat in seven Premier League matches, the Red Devils hit a new low on a rainy Tuesday night at Old Trafford.
Rasmus Hojlund, who scored a spectacular second goal after his opener was canceled out by former United forward Wilfried Zaha, seemed to put United on the right track. However, Ten Hag’s team soon unraveled, with Kerem Akturkoglu equalizing and Andre Onana’s disastrous pass to Dries Mertens resulting in a penalty and a red card for Casemiro.
Despite Mauro Icardi missing the spot-kick, he quickly made amends as United endured their third Old Trafford defeat of the campaign.