Rennes vs Arsenal preview: Alexandre Lacazette suspended for Europa League last-16 tie
Last Updated: 07/03/19 5:41pm
Arsenal will be without Alexandre Lacazette when they face Rennes in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash on Thursday (kick-off 5.55pm GMT).
The striker is suspended for both legs after being sent off in the last round against BATE Borisov.
His absence is likely to mean Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang starts in France, having been on the bench for the north London derby on Saturday.
Aubameyang came on as a substitute against Tottenham and saw a late penalty saved as the match finished 1-1.
Arsenal's next Premier League match is against top-four rivals Manchester United on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
Rennes are 10th in Ligue 1 and should be well rested after their Ligue 1 game at the weekend was postponed to allow them to prepare for the Europa League.
It means Rennes, who beat Real Betis in the last round, have had an eight-day break between games.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery said: "It's not an excuse for us. We have the habit to play a lot of matches week by week. We rested on Sunday. We're starting to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Tomorrow we will be OK to play every player. For us it's a very important match to think what we need to do individually and collectively."
Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns, with Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck still long-term absentees.
- Rennes will be the 10th different French team that Arsenal have faced in all European competition - the Gunners have beaten each of the previous nine French sides they've met.
- Arsenal have never lost an away game against French opposition (W8 D5 L0). Their only two defeats suffered in France in competitive games came in the 1995 Cup Winners Cup final vs Real Zaragoza and the 2006 Champions League final against Barcelona.
- Rennes will be hosting an English side for only the second time in their history, and for the first time since July 2001 when they beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the first leg of their Intertoto Cup semi-final encounter.
- This is the sixteenth successive campaign in which Arsenal have reached the last 16 of a major European competition, a run that began in 2003-04. The Gunners reached this stage of the Champions League 14 times between 2004 and 2017, whilst also appearing in the Europa League last 16 last season.
- Rennes striker Ismalia Sarr has been directly involved in five goals in the Europa League this season (three goals, two assists); more than any other player for the French side.
Charlie Nicholas' prediction
I expect Arsenal to be comfortable but it's not an easy game, there's no easy games. Going back to BATE, Arsenal still didn't know what they were after the first leg but they've come through it.
Unai Emery has changed the team a bit too much for me, I'd like to see Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the team at the same time. But these are the type of games they'll be good at, Rennes won't be overly physical, they'll try to get an advantage, and I expect Arsenal to go there and win.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-2 (8/1 with Sky Bet)