Preview – Arsenal vs Rennes

Arsenal will have to overcome a two-goal deficit when they host Rennes in the Europa League this evening.

The Gunners Europa League hopes were left hanging by a thread last week when they suffered a 3-1 to the French side away from home.

That was Arsenal’s first ever defeat away to a French team and arguably one of their worst performances in recent years.

They have a strong record at the Emirates this season, though, and will be confident of overcoming the deficit in this game.

Team News

Arsenal will be without Sokratis Papastathopoulos following as he serves a suspension following his red card in the first leg.

They will, however, have Henrikh Mkhitaryan at their disposal after he missed the clash with Manchester United.

Likewise, Unai Emery will have Alexandre Lacazette at his disposal because his three-game ban was reduced to two.

Rennes, meanwhile, will be without Romain Danze and Rafik Guitane but other than those two, have no fresh injury concerns.

What the managers said

Arsenal FC v Manchester United - Premier League
LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 10: Unai Emery, Manager of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on March 10, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Arsenal boss Unai Emery once again played down the talk of favourites, instead saying he just wanted a positive showing from his side.

“I don’t think about that. I only want to play the best possible match, doing all we can, with each player and the team.

“In the first 90 minutes, they beat us and tomorrow, we will want to show here it can be different, but with a big respect to them and also knowing we need all the players with the focus and to control our emotions and control the different situations and scenarios that can come in the 90 minutes.

Daniel James, Manchester United, Premier League

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“We are very demanding on ourselves and need to be together and create a big atmosphere with our supporters to help us. We need to play with high emotion, but take clear decisions and try to control the 90 minutes.”

Stade Rennais v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg
RENNES, FRANCE – MARCH 07: Julien Stephan, head coach of Rennes celebrates after Nacho Monreal of Arsenal scored an own goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 First Leg match between Stade Rennais and Arsenal at Roazhon Park on March 07, 2019 in Rennes, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Rennes boss Julien Stephan, meanwhile, decided to focus on UEFA’s decision to lower Lacazette’s ban in his presser.

“The timing is rather surprising for everyone involved,” he said.

“We didn’t think that he would be included up until yesterday [Tuesday] evening. They have decided to reduce his sanction from three to two games, and that is great for him. Now we are going to have to prepare with that in mind.

“The first thing that was a bit strange was changing the first and second leg, this is now the second bizarre instance that has happened that changes things. Hopefully, there will not be any more surprises and the referee tomorrow will be great.”

Stats

Arsenal have beaten all of the nine French sides they’ve met in the past. They need a win here to make it ten out of ten.

History is working against them here, though. They’ve progressed just three times out of 18 times they’ve been behind following the first leg.

Likewise, in the history of the Europa League, only one side has progressed after losing the first leg 3-1.

Rennes are in good form in the competition as well. They’re undefeated in five and have scored at least three goals in their last three games as well.

Even more worrying, the French side have only lost one of their last seven UEFA Cup/ Europa League knockout games.

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