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Arsenal 6-0 Lens: Jesus can finish, top five to fear and qualification assured

Arsenal produced an emphatic display to beat Lens and advance to the Champions League last 16 as group winners.

They led 4-0 in 27 minutes thanks to goals from Kai Havertz, Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli before Martin Odegaard added a fifth in first half injury time. Substitute Jorginho converted a penalty for his first goal for the club four minutes from time.

That took Arteta’s side to 12 points after five games, four ahead of PSV Eindhoven in second place.

It was the fourth-fastest goal an English club has scored in a UEFA competition match since 1998, forgetting the 2-1 defeat to the same opponents.

They struggled to contain the might of Lens in October, but it was a different story in London where they showed the gap in class between the teams with a ruthless finish.

It means the trip to face PSV in the Netherlands in a fortnight’s time is now a dead rubber but, after five seasons without Champions League football, it was the perfect way to complete progression to the last 16.

Why is Jesus so deadly in the Champions League?

When Jesus injured his hamstring last month after just two months, Arteta warned he may have to help the Brazilian striker back into things this time around.

How Jesus must have laughed. The Arsenal striker is not making progress, only at full speed. If there were fears that it would take a few weeks for him to regain his sharpness after his second injury of the season, his performance against Lens reassured fans that he is ready to be their talisman in Europe.

It was his second start of the week after leading the line against Brentford, but it was the sort of matador-like performance he produced against Sevilla last month.

Jesus says finishing is not his strong point… (Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

There is something about this competition that seems to bring out the best in him. The space afforded by the Lens press helped him, but the way he scored his goal, faking a shot to send Kevin Danso sliding into the next week before calmly heading home, was like a child in the playground. recess and he physically intimidated the Lens backline on numerous occasions.

This took him to 23 goals in the competition for Manchester City and Arsenal, a tally which surpasses compatriots Roberto Firmino (22), Romario (20), Ronaldinho (18) and Ronaldo (14). Not bad for a striker who says finishing is not his strong suit.

How far can Arsenal’s top five take them in Europe?

When Arteta looked into his crystal ball this summer, it must have been a premonition.

His two attacking midfielders Odegaard and Havertz, as well as his front three Saka, Martinelli and Jesus, all scored.

It was the first time in any of this season’s 21 games that they all started together, but it clicked into place better than anyone could have hoped.

There is one obvious caveat: Lens, like PSV in the group opener, played into Arsenal’s hands by trying to compete, but this was a lightning-fast attacking game.

Odegaard scaled

Odegaard scored the fifth at half-time (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

It’s rare for a team from Europe’s top five leagues to be destroyed so brutally, but every time they countered in the first half it looked like Arsenal were going to score.

That front five only worked so well because the press, whenever they lost the ball, was relentless – and Declan Rice was back as the anchor in midfield.

How many players should Arteta rest at Eindhoven?

With 10 matches between the last international break and the New Year, it is difficult to find any wiggle room in the schedule.

By killing off the game, Arsenal not only allowed full-backs Takehiro Tomiyasu and Oleksandr Zinchenko to replace Ben White and Jakub Kiwior at half-time, but it likely gave some of their key players a night off against PSV in two weeks. . Saka had 25 minutes of rest, Rice was able to get up for 15 minutes, and Jesus watched the last 10 from the sidelines.

Players like Rice and Saka racked up 25 games and had issues along the way. Not needing to travel three days before a tough home game against Brighton & Hove Albion could be a valuable bonus.

Last season, Arteta stayed with virtually the same team for the entire season, but this was partly due to the decline in quality of some replacement players.

This season they have added depth and the game in the Netherlands offers the opportunity to give game time to players like Aaron Ramsdale, Kiwior, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah, as well as the chance to hand debuts in the Champions League to Ethan Nwaneri, 16 years old. Myles Lewis-Skelly, 17 years old.

What did Arteta say?

We’ll bring you what the Arsenal manager says after his post-match media duties.

What future for Arsenal?

Saturday December 2: Wolverhampton Wanderers (M), Premier League, 3 p.m. GMT, 10 a.m. ET

Arsenal have won their last four matches against Wolves, including a 5-0 defeat in their last home game in May.

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(Top photo: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)


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