On Thursday evening, Arsenal travel to France to face Rennes in the Europa League last-16 first leg, hopeful of returning to the capital with a positive result to take into the second leg in a weeks’ time.
Rennes are currently midtable in Ligue One after an inconsistent run of form of late. However, the visitors have been a tough nut to crack in recent months, as the home side has suffered just one defeat in eight games in all competitions.
The French side has a decent recent record in the Europa League too, as they are unbeaten in four matches in the competition, having recorded three wins and a draw. In the last round of the competition, Julien Stephan’s team produced a 6-4 aggregate victory over Spanish team Real Betis.
Rennes have not been great on home soil in the Europa League. However, the French side has suffered just one defeat in 13 matches on home soil in the competition.
Arsenal heads into this clash in high spirits after a four-game unbeaten run in all competitions, including a creditable 1-1 draw at north London rivals Tottenham last time out.
The Gunners also have a good recent record in the Europa League, winning six of their last eight outings in Europe’s secondary competition. Unai Emery’s side defeated BATE Borisov 3-1 on aggregate in the last round after suffering a 1-0 away defeat in the first leg.
The team from north London have a patchy recent away record in this competition, as they have won three, lost two and drawn one of their last six matches on their travels. The visitor’s recent away record is also a concern, as the Gunners have won just two of their last ten matches on their travels in all competitions. They have also suffered three defeats in their last five away matches.
The home are without the quartet of Jordan Siebatcheu, Romain Danze, Abdoulaye Diallo and Ludovic Baal due to injury. Hamari Traore will also miss out due to suspension, while James Lea Siliki is also an injury doubt. Benjamin Andre will return after serving a one-match ban in their last Europa League outing against Real Betis.
Arsenal are without long-term injury casualties Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin, while Alexandre Lacazette is suspended after his sending off in the first leg of the last round against BATE. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is likely to start up front in the Frenchman’s absence.
Arsenal are favourites to record a victory at odds of 21/20, the draw is 5/2, while the home side are 3/1 to claim a win. The Gunners have been poor of late on their travels but will be hoping to take a good result into the second leg next week.
Can Arsenal pick up a positive result in France?