Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta following Lens defeat: “We knew it would be a very difficult match.”

Speaking in the wake of RC Lens’ 2-1 victory over Arsenal, Mikel Arteta said that he wasn’t necessarily surprised by the level displayed by Tuesday night’s opponent. 

Lens needed to come from behind to take the victory on a historic night at the Stade Bollaert. Gabriel Jesus allowed Arsenal to take the lead. Adrien Thomasson then levelled the score before Elye Wahi’s second-half goal secured the three points. Lens therefore became the first French tram in Champions League history to beat Arsenal at home. 

Despite Lens’ lack of form in these opening gameweeks, Arteta was nonetheless wary of Franck Haise’s side, saying that he had been “impressed” by Lens, adding that he was expecting a “big battle.” And that is what Arsenal got. Lens and Arsenal now have identical records in Group B after two games, but the former top the group due to their head-to-head record. 

Speaking in the post-match press conference, Arteta has reacted to his side’s first defeat of their Champions League campaign. “First of all, congratulations to Lens. They are a good team with a good manager. We knew it would be a very difficult match,” said the Spaniard, in a press conference transcribed by AFP

Arteta also praised the atmosphere at the Stade Bollaert. “The atmosphere was a positive energy for Lens. I know it’s one of the biggest atmospheres that you find in France,” he said. 

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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