RC Lens 1-1 Arsenal: Late Oxlade-Chamberlain strike spares Arsenal's blushes in pre-season opener

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cancelled out Mathias Autret's first half opener early on in Arsenal's first pre-season test in France

RC Lens 1-1 Arsenal: Late Oxlade-Chamberlain strike spares Arsenal's blushes in pre-season opener
Image credit: Arsenal

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored late on to save from Arsenal from a pre-season opening defeat in Lens, as Arsenal started their pre-season with a draw in Northern France.

Mathias Autret gave Ligue 2 side RC Lens the lead less than ten minutes from the end of the first half after a mistake from Calum Chambers allowed Abdellah Zoubir to race past him. Despite goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez's best efforts, the Frenchman slotted home into an empty net.

Half-time substitute Chamberlain rode to the rescue, combining with fellow sub Serge Gnabry to fire home a chipped finish over former PSG goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez to equalise in the 82nd minute.

Stuttering start

It was a mix of youth and experience for a depleted Arsenal, who didn't field any of their star players who took part in this summer's European Championships in France, nor Chile's Copa America star Alexis Sanchez who is recovering from an ankle injury.

There was a clear lack of cohesion between a lot of the players in the first half, despite Chuba Akpom's effort three minutes in that went safely into the gloves of Douchez.

It was clear that the Gunners were a month behind Lens in terms of fitness. Lens begin their Ligue 2 season next weekend, their energy far exceeded Arsenal's in the first half and they were quick to pounce on any mistakes that went their way. Autret and Zoubir were especially dangerous even before the opening goal.

Arsenal struggled to create much of note in the first 45 minutes although credit to the endeavours of right-back Mathieu Debuchy and #10 Alex Iwobi who were eager to show off their range of passing. They were far and away Arsenal's best players in the first half despite the French defender's late booking on the eve of half time.

Chamberlain chips in for an equaliser. | Image credit: Arsenal FC
Chamberlain chips in for an equaliser. | Image credit: Arsenal FC

Second half improvement

The Gunners made six changes at half time and it showed, as they began to looked a much better unit and a lot better going forward, nearly equalising after five minutes of the second half. However, Joel Campbell was flagged offside and his subsequent effort hit the post regardless.

Lens themselves were unlucky not to extend their lead when a corner was met by Benjamin Bourigeaud who saw his dipping volley tipped over the bar by Matt Macey in the Arsenal goal.

In the end, both sides had to be content with a draw, Lens will feel be happy with their work rate and endeavour for much of the game before they travel to Niort next Friday evening. Whereas Arsenal can look forward to a trip to the West Coast of the US next week as they look to continue a healthy pre-season.