Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira has admitted that he will be rooting for French side Rennes in the second leg of their Europa League last 16 tie, despite facing his former club.
Now manager of OGC Nice in Ligue 1, Vieira enjoyed nine hugely successful years with the Gunners, but the former midfielder has revealed that he will put country before club on Thursday night.
As quoted by the Daily Express, Vieira stated: "I have not seen the games [Rennes vs Arsenal] but the result didn't surprise me.
"Rennes are a really good Ligue 1 team. Offensively they are able to score against all teams in every minute of a game."
Last week's first leg ended in a surprise 3-1 win for Rennes, as Arsenal played the whole of the second half with ten men following Sokratis Papasthapoulos' sending off for a second bookable offence.
Arsenal whilst Sokratis & Koscielny have been on the pitch together this season: 879 minutes, 6 goals conceded, a goal conceded every 147 minutes.— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) March 12, 2019
Without Sokratis & Koscielny being on the pitch together: 3,081 minutes, 46 goals conceded, a goal conceded every 67 minutes.
The result over the channel means Arsenal need to overturn the deficit and score at least twice at the Emirates Stadium to stand a chance of progressing to the Europa League quarter final, but former captain Vieira will not be gunning for Unai Emery's side.
"It's very good that they won for French football. We are all supporting Rennes and all the French teams in the Europa League," he added.
"We hope they can qualify for the next round when they travel to London on Thursday."
Les Rouges et Noires are eighth in Ligue 1 but have been hailed for their attacking football, with exciting talents like 21-year-old Ismaila Sarr attracting interest from Europe's top clubs including Arsenal.
Rennes boss Julien Stéphan questions UEFA's decision to reduce Alexandre Lacazette's suspension: "It was surprising timing... We did not expect it... This is a 2nd bizarre instance, after the decision to invert the legs."— Get French Football News (@GFFN) March 13, 2019
Emery will be without Sokratis at the back but Gunners fans will be buoyed by the surprise return of striker Alexandre Lacazette, whose three-match ban for an elbow against BATE Borisov in the previous round was reduced to two matches on Tuesday.
Arsenal will be hoping to complete the full set of English clubs in the quarter final stages of European competitions this season, with Chelsea more than likely to go through on Thursday with a 3-0 aggregate advantage over Ukraine's Dynamo Kiev.