Arsenal vs. Stade Rennais – Europa League preview (1-3 agg)
After the United win, we have another tough task in this 2nd leg of the Round of 16.
Rennes bossed us up at their place, though their efforts were boosted by our failings.
Some good news here is that Lacazette is available, as his ban was commuted by UEFA.
And also that our home form is very strong.
But we still have two goals to get – at minimum. And if Rennes score, this would complicate things much more, naturally.
We only need to win 2-0 to go through, given the away goals rule.
Though if Rennes score, we’d have to get three to level the tie, and then four to win it overall.
So it won’t be an easy task.
However, Emery went from tactical dud to tactical king in two games, and we may just have to accept that he will get it wrong on occasion.
But if I could get in Emery’s mind, I suspect he may do this. Or perhaps better cited – this is what I would do in this scenario:
- Continue with the back three. Rennes will be disciplined but will attack too. However, we cannot allow them to keep the ball, as this suits them. With more bodies in midfield, this can stop them from controlling things.
- Play Guendouzi, Torreira and Xhaka. Xhaka was outstanding vs. United, and he can continue this here. Guendouzi and Torreira will offer better ball retention and carrying, and this would help counter their midfield threats.
- Auba and Laca together – this is a prime trump card here. They know they have to keep things tight, and it’s imperative both start to keep them occupied. UEFA have been good to us to let us have Laca back.
- Ozil to start – If there is a time for redemption then this is it. A key game here would silence many of the haters, especially if he provides a telling assist, or winning goal, to get us through. During his rehabilitation, as it were, he has played well and has worked harder off the ball.
- Iwobi – we need him to run at their defence. He got the goal there, and they would be fearing him due to his pace and trickery.
- Mustafi? Really? This isn’t being unkind. But then this too could be redemption – of a sort. But with Sokratis suspended, he may be required here in a back three.
It’s also imperative that we get an early goal, as I can see Rennes wanting to be compact and not give much away. They know that we’re strong at home, and that our attack is potent. For them, a great start is to get at half-time at 0-0. If so, we could score two in the second-half, but they know we always don’t thrive under pressure. But this also requires an expert defensive display, and we must utilise the early part of the game well. If not, it will be difficult.
Arsenal 2-0 Stade Rennais
I think we will do it, as our attacking threats will be too much for them.
However, we must hit them hard early, since I don’t think they can defend well for the 90 minutes.
We must also remember they can hit us on counter-attacks or from set-pieces, and they know this can be vital. It was for them in the first leg. But the odds, especially with Laca back, are in our favour. So we really have nobody to blame if we go out.
We just have to maintain our attacking dominance, and don’t commit any silly errors as we did at their place.
If we’re professional and thorough, we can get it done. Rennes is a better side than BATE, but we need a similar performance in this game as we had vs. BATE at home. We got at them early, got an early goal, and the rest was a breeze. An early goal would put doubt in their minds, and is something they need to avert at any cost.