''Masterclass Incoming'' - Unai Emery Unleashes Big Guns For Arsenal's Clash Against Rennes
After two memorable Champions League nights it’s now the turn of its younger sibling, the Europa League, to take a starring role.
Arsenal and Chelsea are the remaining British representatives and both London clubs are in action tonight in the last-16 first-leg ties, with the former kicking-off against Rennes in less than an hour (17.55).
Gunners boss Unai Emery is bidding to win the competition for the fourth time, having led Sevilla to three triumphs, and the Spaniard has included Mesut Ozil in his starting line-up, plus Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, in what will the club's fifth game in just 15 days.
Class line-up to be honest @aubameyangN14
Nice. No issues with that at all. (@_HarrySalmon)
Emery not messing around, i like this attitude.. (@SipheleleQalaba)
Masterclass incoming! (@kausjadhav)
Striker Alexandre Lacazette is out as he serves the second leg of a three-match ban following his sending off against Bate, meaning there’s room for English youngster Eddie Nketiah, 19, on the bench.
A familiar face will be in the Rennes ranks, in Hatem Ben Arfa, formerly of Newcastle, Hull, and PSG under a certain manager, Emery, who froze the player out. However, the mercurial winger is enjoying somewhat of a mini-renaissance at Rennes since he signed a two-year contract in September, and he’ll no doubt be determined to inflict misery upon his former coach.
The hosts, who did not have to play at the weekend, will however be without the duo of M'Baye Niang and Hamari Traore who are both suspended.
Arsenal mounted a second-leg comeback in the previous round, recording a 3-0 win against Bate Borisov, having lost the opening game 1-0 in Belarus. Meanwhile, tonight’s opponents Rennes booted out Real Betis, scoring six goals in the process.