Arsenal vs Rennes match preview

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Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan will have a late fitness test before Thursday’s Europa League last-16 second-leg match against Rennes.

The Armenian midfielder missed Sunday’s league win over Manchester United with a back injury but trained on Wednesday.

Striker Alexandre Lacazette will be available after his three-match ban was reduced to two on appeal, and Lucas Torreira returns from a domestic ban. French Ligue 1 side Rennes lead the tie 3-1 on aggregate.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery said the return of Lacazette will boost his side’s potent attack. “We all know how important Alex is to us as a group,” said the Spaniard.

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“Obviously the more players we have available the better it is because we do have some quality players, particularly in midfield and up top. Hopefully we will be able to make that danger pay.

“Let’s just hope that Lacazette can help us to achieve the result on Thursday.”

‘We can give a very big performance’

Arsenal led the first leg through Alex Iwobi’s early goal before defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, suspended for Thursday’s game, was sent off for a second bookable offence shortly before half-time.

The French side scored soon after, before finding the net twice more in the second half. “I think in terms of the game last week it was a very different game until the red card to Sokratis,” added Emery.

“I think we were in control of the match and we’d obviously taken an early lead, but the red card did change things and Rennes were able to take advantage of things. “With that being said, we do have confidence that we’re going to give a very big performance tomorrow and go through to the next round.”

Rennes boss Julien Stephan said his team may need to score two away goals to progress. “Arsenal remain favourites given their past and their experience,” said Stephan. “The only thing I think is that we will need to score there, at least once, if not twice.”

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Since the inception of the Europa League in 2009-10, only one side has progressed to the following round after losing 3-1 in the first leg of a knockout tie – though it was an English team (Fulham v Juventus in 2009-10; 1-3 away, 4-1 home).

Arsenal

  • Of the 18 previous times it has happened, Arsenal have progressed from just three ties in major European competition after losing the first leg of a knockout match (v Hajduk Split in 1978-79 Uefa Cup, v Porto in 2009-10 Champions League, and against Bate Borisov in the last round).
  • Excluding own goals, Arsenal have had more different scorers than any other side in this season’s Europa League (11).

Rennes

  • Including qualifiers, Rennes have only lost one of their last seven Uefa Cup/Europa League knockout matches (W5 D1), a 0-1 defeat to FC Twente back in October 2008.
  • Ismaila Sarr has been directly involved in six Europa League goals for Rennes this season, the most of any player at the club (four goals, two assists).

Source: BBC News

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