Rennes are on the verge of one of the biggest achievements in their clubs history. Leading 3-1 from the first leg, can they do enough to propel themselves in to the next round or will Arsenal drag themselves back in to contention?
The first leg was blip in Arsenal’s form
Domestically, Arsenal have been rather impressive of late, their run of just one defeat in eight culminated in an excellent 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday. The Gunners will be in high spirits after inflicting United’s first league defeat since Ole Gunner Solskjaer took over. They need at least two goals in this game to give themselves a chance of going through and with them averaging above two goals a game for their past 12 in the league they’ll hold real belief that they can do the same again here.
Arsenal will also take solace from their superb record at the Emirates; just one defeat this season, with 13 wins from 16 league games. Only Liverpool and Manchester City have outscored The Gunners in the league this season and with the away goal in their back pocket this tie is far from over. Both teams are sitting at the same price of 1.85 to qualify.
Some reshuffling in the sides
The visitors have some returning faces in their line-up, Hamari Traore will come back in at right back in place of Mehdi Zeffane who often struggled to contain Alex Iwobi in the reverse fixture. James Le Siliki is back fit but looks unlikely to start. Combative midfielder Benjamin Andre is well rested after sitting out the weekend win over Caen. He’ll start in the middle of the park alongside Clement Grenier, who’s range of passing and dead ball quality gave Arsenal a lot to think about in the first leg. He isn’t the most dynamic defensively, and should Arsenal apply the pressure he could become a liability for the visitors.
Ismaila Sarr and Hatem Ben Arfa were the two real standouts from the first leg, and both looked the most likely to be involved in the goals. Sarr headed home late on to seal the win, his pace was devastating at times and Sead Kolasinac will have to monitor him closely, particularly when Rennes look to spring a counter attack.
There’s a plethora of news for Arsenal. Staring in defence, of course, Sokratis is unavailable after his dismissal in the first leg. However Alexandre Lacazette will return from his suspension after it was reduced, and Lucas Torreira is available as his current suspension only applies to domestic games. The Uruguayan is likely to anchor the midfield alongside Granit Xhaka with Monreal, Mustafi and Koscielny playing as the three centre halves. The forward positions are a bit of a guessing game, Lacazette is expected to start, then any combination of Aubameyang, Ramsey, Ozil and Iwobi could play as his supporting duo. I can see Arsenal starting both Aubameyang and Lacazette as they look to turn this tie on its head, the pairing are the shortest odds for a goal, priced at 1.57 and 1.73 anytime, respectively.
Goals are the assumption
Rennes have scored three in each of their last three Europa league matches, they also netted three at the weekend in Ligue 1. Arsenals games this season have seen an average of 3.4 goals per game and there is no room for anything other than an attacking display from The Gunners. Emery has a real love affair with the Europa League and you can be certain he has drilled in the importance of it to his players. You can back over 2.5 goals at a price of 1.44, over 3.5 is out at 2.25 which is a selection that came in in the first leg as well as in Rennes previous two games against Real Betis so could be good value.
Over 2.5 goals @ 1.44
Alexandre Lacazette to score anytime @ 1.73
Arsenal to qualify @ 1.85