Unai Emery takes his Arsenal team to France on Thursday. The Gunners will play Rennes in their first leg last-16 tie. Arsenal are four matches unbeaten in all competitions following Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
The Gunners’ draw to Tottenham resulted in them dropping out of the Premier League top four. Arsenal will play Manchester United on Sunday, but before they clash with the Red Devils, they will meet Rennes.
How will the Gunners line-up against Europa League opponents?
Emery has favoured rotation in the Europa League and the team should see several new faces that didn’t feature against Tottenham.
He will be without the likes of Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, and Danny Welbeck. However, those three have been long-term absentees and shouldn’t affect Emery’s team selection.
The only new absentee will be Alexandre Lacazette. The striker received a straight red card against BATE Borisov in their first leg match in the previous round.
Lacazette will serve the second match of his three-match ban.
Without Lacazette to lead the line, Emery will call upon Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to play through the middle.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech will continue as Arsenal goalkeeper in the competition while Bernd Leno makes way for him. Cech has been Emery’s first-choice shot-stopper in the Europa League as the former Czech international gears up for retirement in the summer..
Although Rennes do have plenty of injury concerns of their own, they have exciting attacking players who can score goals.
Former AC Milan and Watford player M’Baye Niang netted in the last round against Real Betis. The Frenchman is still full of potential despite being around for some time. Unfortunately for Rennes, Niang will not be available for Thursday night’s game due to suspension.
Right-back Hamari Traore is also out due to suspension. However, former Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa is also at Rennes and will be available.