Lens started the campaign in eye-catching fashion, earning 18 points from the opening nine matches, but they have since seen their consistency slip slightly.
While they bounced back from a loss to Montpellier with a 4-1 win over Metz and a defeat to Lyon with a 4-0 thrashing of Troyes, Les Sang et Or have now won just two of their last seven games, and have drawn the most recent two.
Both games ended 2-2, with Angers able to recover after Lens turned the game around, and Clermont equalising twice before hanging on with 10 men in Wednesday’s game.
An own goal had given Franck Haise’s side the lead after 12 minutes and Seko Fofana restored their advantage early in the second half after the first equaliser, but Mohamed Bayo’s eighth of the season levelled things up again and Les Lanciers were able to survive the final six minutes after Yadaly Diaby saw red.
Despite their recent struggles, this remains an impressive campaign for a club only promoted to the top tier 18 months ago. Now, they will face one of their biggest challenges yet, though, as the Parisians head into town.
PSG may have built up a 12-point lead at the top, but they have rarely made life easy for themselves this season.
They have come from behind to win five times during the first 16 games of this season, and have conceded the first goal on 11 occasions in 2021, which is their highest tally in a calendar year since 2012 (also 11).
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In their most recent match – against Nice on Wednesday – nobody scored the opening goal, with both goalkeepers excelling as the match ended in a stalemate.
That is not to say that there were no chances created. Kylian Mbappe probably should have netted at least once, Angel Di Maria spurned a one-on-one and, for the opposition, Kasper Dolberg somehow managed to miss from three yards out, heading against the post with the ball rebounding onto his leg and stopping just next to the goal line.
Perhaps Mauricio Pochettino’s side missed Neymar’s creativity, but if so, they will have to find a solution quickly as the Brazilian is expected to be out for the best part of eight weeks