By 90Min
March 05, 2019

Arsenal travel to French side Rennes on Thursday in the first leg of their last 16 tie in the Europa League.

The Gunners will be keen to bounce back after slipping out of the top four following a 1-1 draw in the North London Derby on Saturday.

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/GettyImages

Rennes however showed in the previous round that they are no pushover after upsetting Real Betis.

Check out 90min's preview ahead of Sunday's encounter.


Where to Watch


When Is Kick Off? Thursday 7 Macrh
What Time Is Kick Off? 17:55 (GMT)
Where Is it Played? Roazhon Park
TV Channel/Stream? BT Sport 3
Referee? Udiano Mallenco (Spain)

Team News

With Alexandre Lacazette suspended, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should start up front for Arsenal on Thursday evening. The Gunners will still be without Hector Bellerin, Danny Welbeck and Rob Holding, who all have long-term injuries.

With Lucas Torreira's suspended domestically following his red card against Tottenham, the Uruguayan should start in midfield. 36-year-old goalkeeper Petr Cech, who will retire at the end of the season, has been Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper in Europe this season, despite losing his place to Bernd Leno in the Premier League.

LOIC VENANCE/GettyImages

Arsenal will be well aware of what former Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa can do, and he will start on Thursday for Rennes. who will be without highly rated forward M'Baye Niang, who along with right back Hamari Traore, is suspended. 

The French side also have a lengthy injury list, with central midfielder James Lea Siliki and striker Jordan Siebatcheu both out of the tie.


Predicted Lineups

Rennes Koubek; Zeffane, Da Silva, Mexer, Bensebaini; Andre, Grenier; Sarr, Ben Arfa, Bourigeaud; Del Castillo.
Arsenal Cech; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Guendouzi, Torreira; Suarez, Ozil, Iwobi; Aubameyang.

Head to Head Record

Thursday night's clash will be the first ever meeting between the two sides. 

Rennes' only previous meeting with an English club in Europe was an Intertoto Cup semi-final against Aston Villa in 2001, which they lost on away goals.

LOIC VENANCE/GettyImages

In contrast, this is Arsenal's 25th fixture against French opposition in Europe. A 1-1 draw against Paris Saint-Germain in 2016 ended a seven-match winning run for the north London club against Ligue 1 teams.


Recent Form

Saturday's 1-1 draw in the North London Derby ended a three game win streak for the Gunners. Arsenal have also won eight of their ten European games this season. 

However, Unai Emery will be seriously concerned by Arsenal's away record this season, having only won five of their 14 league games on the road this campaign, failing to keep a single clean sheet in any of those games. The 1-0 defeat away to BATE Borisov in the previous round was arguably their worst performance of the season.

GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

With just one defeat in their last eight, Rennes will be confident of causing an upset at Roazhan Park.


This is already Rennes' best ever European campaign, having finished runners-up in Group K behind Dynamo Kiev. Their impressive 6-4 aggregate win over Spanish side Real Betis in the previous round showed that Rennes will be no pushovers in Brittany.


Here is how each team has performed in their last five matches.

Rennes Arsenal
Rennes 2-0 US Orleans (27/2) Tottenham 1-1 Arsenal (2/3)
Rennes 1-1 Marseille (24/2) Arsenal 5-1 Bournemouth (27/2)
Real Betis 1-3 Rennes (21/2) Arsenal 2-0 Southampton (24/2)
Stade Reims 2-0 Rennes (17/2) Arsenal 3-0 Bate (21/2)
Rennes 3-3 Real Betis (14/2) Bate 1-0 Arsenal (14/2)

Prediction

Despite Arsenal's unpredictability this season, they should have too much for a side sitting 10th in Ligue 1.

Rennes have defied the odds to get this far, and the extra rest they have been will be a benefit for the French outfit. Arsenal's defence is famously shaky at the moment, especially away from home.

GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

However, Arsenal have looked more reliable in recent weeks, and with potential attacking threats such as Aubameyang and Ozil in the side, the Gunners will want to finish the tie early as they face of an increasingly busy fixture list.


Prediction: Rennes 0-2 Arsenal

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