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Strasbourg-Lens preview: Lens warm up for Arsenal clash

Strasbourg-Lens preview: Lens warm up for Arsenal clash

Publish on 09/28 at 19:14


RC Lens warm up for their UEFA Champions League clash against Arsenal with a trip to face Patrick Vieira’s RC Strasbourg Alsace on Friday. Les Sang et Or are fresh from claiming their first win of the campaign last weekend.

RC Strasbourg Alsace – RC Lens Friday at 21:00 CET (1900 GMT)


Last season’s Ligue 1 Uber Eats runners-up endured a difficult start to this campaign as they failed to win any of their opening five matches, collecting just a single point from a possible 15. However, Franck Haise’s side gained confidence from their display away to Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League, when they came from behind in Spain to earn a 1-1 draw thanks to a superb Angelo Fulgini free-kick. They then built on that to come from behind again and beat Toulouse FC 2-1 at home last weekend thanks to goals by Wesley Saïd and summer signing Morgan Guilavogui.

Having climbed tentatively up to 16th place in the table, the northerners are hoping to build on that victory and remain upwardly mobile with a positive result in Alsace. That would be a huge boost ahead of the Arsenal clash, when the Stade Bollaert-Delelis will stage Champions League football for the first time in over two decades.

Haise will have been determined to keep the focus firmly on domestic matters this week as Lens go to a difficult venue where they drew 2-2 in the corresponding fixture last season. Strasbourg have taken seven points from a possible nine at the Stade de la Meinau so far in this campaign.

Watch: Lens claim first win of season

“They have used different systems and got some positive results at the start of this season, especially at home because the Meinau is so important for them. They are capable of getting forward quickly and they have dangerous weapons,” insisted Haise this week when asked about Vieira’s side.

Lens have lost all three away outings in the league so far this season and are the team Strasbourg have claimed most wins against in their entire top-flight history. That latter statistic may not mean much, but of more relevance is the fact the Alsace side are enjoying their best start to a season since returning to the elite in 2017, with 10 points on the board after six games.

‘Lens not where they should be’

Vieira’s team won 1-0 away to FC Metz in a local derby low on excitement last week, when a late goal by Habib Diarra - who was linked with Lens during the close season - settled the contest in the visitors’ favour.

“We need to be a bit more consistent with our performances. We had plenty of possession at Metz but despite that we didn’t manage to create a huge amount of chances. We know we want to progress and do better in that regard. That means taking risks at times if we are to get forward more,” said Vieira, who spent almost a decade as a player for Arsenal and was appointed by Strasbourg in the summer.

He is wary of a Lens side who he believes do not deserve to be so far down the Ligue 1 standings just now.

Highlights: Strasbourg come out on top in derby

“Lens should not be where they are in the table. They are a Champions League team. The players know each other well because they have been working together for several years now. They have a very clear style of play. They play with lots of intensity and we will need to be at our best in every area to respond to that and get a good result,” he said.

Vieira, who has Polish full-back Karol Fila on the sidelines with an ACL injury to his left knee, was expected to wait until Friday morning to name his final squad for the game. Lens have seen Massadio Haïdara join the queue to the treatment room due to a thigh injury. David Pereira da Costa’s shoulder injury again keeps him out, while Jimmy Cabot and goalkeeper Wuilker Faríñez have been sidelined long term.

Possible line-ups

Strasbourg: Sels (c); Senaya, Perrin, Nyamsi, Delaine; Diarra, Doukouré, Sissoko; Ângelo Gabriel, Emegha, Bakwa

Lens: Samba (c); Gradit, Danso, Medina; Águilar, Abdul Samed, Diouf, Machado; Sotoca, Thomasson; Wahi


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