Lens 2-1 Arsenal: Player ratings as Saka injured in shock defeat

  • Elye Wahi scored a famous winner for Lens
  • Arsenal suffer their first defeat of the season
  • Saka went off injured in the first half
A disappointing defeat
A disappointing defeat / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Bukayo Saka hobbled off during a shock defeat for Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening.

The wide player was subbed off in the 35th minute of the Gunners' 2-1 defeat to Lens at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis, in which a Adrien Thomasson goal cancelled out Gabriel Jesus' opener before a fantastic Elye Wahi strike earned the Ligue 1 side a famous win.

How the game unfolded

Roared on by a raucous home crowd, Lens came within a whisker of taking the lead inside the opening five minutes through Kevin Danso. After Arsenal failed to clear their lines from a corner kick, the ball fell kindly to Danso in the box, however his subsequent volleyed effort bobbled wide of the foot of the post.

Lens were made to rue that missed chance less than ten minutes later.

The Gunners took full advantage of a lax pass from Adrien Thomasson back into his own defensive third to open the scoring on the night, with Bukayo Saka latching onto the loose ball before finding Gabriel Jesus - who fired the ball low into the bottom left-hand corner of the net from just inside the box.

The home side weren't too deterred by going behind early, and pressed forward with real intent thereafter in search of an equaliser - an equaliser they deservedly got in the 25th minute.

Said goal would come courtesy of Thomasson - making amends for his early mistake - who was teed up beautifully by wonderkid Elye Wahi with a volleyed pass to the right of the penalty area. After controlling the ball, Thomasson curled a glorious side-footed effort into the far top corner of the net.

Things went from bad to worse for Arsenal before half-time, when 'starboy' Saka was subbed off with an injury. Gunners fans will be getting their grannies to light candles in the hope that their main man will be fit for this weekend's clash with title rivals Manchester City.

Arsenal came out of the blocks quickly in the second half, zipping the ball around with much more intent than they had in the first. The Gunners nearly got their rewards for this in the 48th minute when a wonderful sweeping move culminated in the ball being played out to Leandro Trossard on the left of the penalty area. The Belgian cut inside and side-footed the ball under Brice Samba, however, Danso was on hand to bundle it clear before it could cross the goal line.

That five-minute spell proved to be little more than a false dawn for Arsenal, as soon after Lens were back in the ascendancy. The home side once again came close to taking the lead in the 63rd minute when Thomasson cut the ball back into the path of Abdul Samad. Unfortunately for Lens, Samad was unable to direct his low effort on target, seeing it spin just wide of the post instead.

The Gunners didn't exactly heed the warning from the missed chance as, soon after, Lens took the lead through Wahi. The young striker stroked the ball into the bottom left corner of the net when after the home side, once again, broke down the right flank before Adam Frankowski cut the ball back into Wahi's path on the edge of the box.

Arsenal player ratings (4-3-3)

Florian Sotoca, Kai Havertz
A poor showing / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

GK: David Raya - 6/10 - Could do nothing about any of the goals. Used the ball well when in possession.

RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu - 5/10 - Caught out by Thomasson's movement one too many times.

CB: William Saliba - 5/10 - He didn't have his best game.

CB: Gabriel Magalhaes - 5/10 - He struggled to deal with Wahi, which is perhaps a problem that most defenders will encounter for the next decade in fairness.

LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko - 4/10 - Drifted into midfield and the space he left was ultimately exploited by Lens time and time again in the second half.

CM: Martin Odegaard - 5/10 - A disappointing outing for Odegaard as he largely failed to add any creative spark to Arsenal's attack.

CM: Declan Rice - 6/10 - Arsenal's most effective midfielder on Tuesday night. Used the ball well.

CM: Kai Havertz - 3/10 - Quite bad in possession, quite non-existent out of it. Not a good performance.

RW: Bukayo Saka - 6/10 - Set up Arsenal's opening goal but was subbed off 20 minutes later with a suspected injury.

ST: Gabriel Jesus - 6/10 - Scored a lovely goal early on, but struggled to get away from Danso after that.

LW: Leandro Trossard - 5/10 - Missed one decent chance, but ultimately didn't provide Arsenal with the dynamism that Gabriel Martinelli does on the flank.


SUB: Fabio Vieira (34' for Saka) - 4/10 - Simply not effective at all.

SUB: Reiss Nelson (71' for Trossard) - 5/10.

SUB: Ben White (71' for Zinchenko) - 5/10.

SUB: Emile Smith Rowe (71' for Havertz) - 5/10.

SUB: Eddie Nketiah (80' for Odegaard) - N/A.

Manager - Mikel Arteta - 5/10 - Ultimately, Lens exploited Arteta's 'inverted full-backs' on the night to win the game. The Arsenal manager needs to find a way to have a bit more defensive width in his side, preferably before his face off against the mighty Man City at the weekend.

Player of the match - Elye Wahi (Lens)