Mikel Arteta Hopes History Doesn’t Repeat Itself as Arsenal Sets Sights on Champions League Revenge Against Lens
Arsenal, led by Mikel Arteta, has started the season strongly, remaining unbeaten in all competitions.
It’s been 23 years since the previous meeting between the clubs where the Gunners won 3-1 on aggregate in the UEFA Cup semi-final in the 1999/2000 campaign.
A year after preventing them from advancing from their Champions League group, Arsene Wenger’s squad exacted vengeance against the Ligue 1 club.
But now it is Mikel Arteta’s squad’s turn to exact revenge on Lens in the European Cup, as he attempts to prevent a repeat of history.
Arsenal, who played their 1998/99 Champions League games at Wembley to increase home attendance, were unable to defeat Lens in their two meetings.
Lens equalized in the 90th minute at Stade Bollaert-Delelis to salvage a point, then stunned Arsenal with a 1-0 victory at Wembley.
With eight points, Arsenal finished third in Group E, behind Dynamo Kyiv and Lens, who had a better goal difference.
If that were to occur this season, Arsenal would be relegated to Europe’s second-tier competition, the Europa League.
Since this was not a thing at the time, Arsenal was eliminated from the Champions League in the first round.
As one of the favorites to win the tournament this season, Arsenal’s failure to advance to the quarterfinals would be disastrous.
The north Londoners have had a promising start to the season, earning 17 points out of a possible 21 in the Premier League, with five wins and two draws.
The Gunners began the season by claiming the Community Shield, the first piece of silverware available.
It was the manner in which Arsenal began the 1998-99 season as they attempted to mount another title challenge.
Similar to this season, Arsenal’s Premier League season began at home against Nottingham Forest.
Unbelievably, the outcome was identical – a 2-1 victory for the hosts despite a late scare from the Reds.
Arteta’s squad will participate in a London derby in the fourth round of the League Cup, a coincidence that is eerily similar to a previous one.
Next month, Arsenal will face West Ham, but 25 years ago, they were drawn against Chelsea, who stunned them with a 5-0 victory.
Arsenal finished second to Manchester United in the 1998–1999 season, one point behind the Red Devils, who won the championship on the final weekend.
It is another Manchester side that Arsenal are competing with this term, with Pep Guardiola’s rampant City side the current table-toppers.
For Arteta’s sake, he will be hoping that Champions League and Premier League history does not repeat itself.