Sunday, March 24, 2019

Prediction: Arsenal vs Rennes

Verdict: Total goals over 2.5

Best Odds: 1/2

Bookmaker: Bet365

Arsenal welcome Rennes to the Emirates Stadium for the second leg of their Europa League round of 16 showdown on Thursday. The French team stunned the Gunners in France by 3-1 and set themselves into a good position to earn the right of passage into the quarterfinals.

Arsenal

Currently sitting in fourth place, Arsenal have made a big step in their pursuit of Champions League football for next season by beating direct competitors Manchester United, and have therefore shown a sign of goo form on home soil.

They have already come back from behind in the previous round as they successfully overturned a first-leg defeat to BATE Borisov, but the hill they will attempt to climb this time around will be a little steeper.

Team News

Manager Unai Emery cannot count on forward Danny Welbeck, or defenders Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin most likely for the rest of the season. Centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos is suspended after receiving two yellow cards in the first leg, but striker Alexandre Lacazette is available again after his ban was reduced following an appeal.

Rennes

It will not be easy for Rennes when they come to north London, especially with Arsenal needing to chase a result in front of the home crowd. They will need to show defensive resilience first and foremost, but given that they boast a lot of pace up front, they should be able to take advantage of any space left open by the Gunners or any potential lack of focus in the opposition back line.

They come fresh from another 3-1 home win at the weekend, and they shouldn’t be short on confidence having scored three goals in five of their last eight outings in all competitions.

Team News

It is to be expected that head coach Julien Stephan will select the same 11 players he went with in the first leg with all of them available.

Potential Key Points

  • Rennes have scored three goals in five of their last eight games;
  • The suspension of Sokratis will leave Arsenal’s defence weaker than it would be with the Greek international available, but Shkodran Mustafi should be able to fill in the gap with no problems;
  • This double header is the first time these two sides have met in their history, so at the moment, it’s Rennes with the slightest of advantages in that aspect.
  • Lacazette is available to play.
  • Arsenal need to chase a result and are likely therefore to attack from the start.

Conclusion

This game smells of attacking football and promises to give the viewers goals. It only remains to be seen what kind of game the two teams’ forwards will end up having, and whether Arsenal will find enough fuel to overturn the first-leg result, or if Rennes can take advantage of the space the hosts are likely leave behind and hit successfully on counterattacks.

Verdict: Total goals over 2.5

Best Odds: 1/2

Bookmaker: Bet365

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on four different football blogs.

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