Arsenal will travel to France to take on Rennes in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday evening [5.55pm GMT kick off].
Unai Emery has an excellent pedigree in the Europa League having won the competition 3 times during his stint at Sevilla so Arsenal fans will be hoping he can replicate that kind of success in England.
The Gunners eased through the last round thanks to a comfortable 3-0 second leg victory over BATE Borisov at the Emirates Stadium which secured a 3-1 aggregate win for the north Londoners.
Rennes could provide a stiffer test as the Ligue 1 outfit looked impressive en route to a 6-4 aggregate win over Real Betis in the last round so Arsenal won’t be taking anything for granted on Thursday evening.
Arsenal head in to the game off the back of a dramatic 1-1 draw with Tottenham in the north London derby at Wembley on Saturday. The Gunners missed a late penalty to snatch all three points after Harry Kane had scored a controversial penalty to level things up in the second half.
Alexandre Lacazette will miss the game through suspension after being sent off during the final stages of the win over BATE so Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should start up front.
Lucas Torreira will miss Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Man Utd on Sunday due to suspension so you’d expect him to start against Rennes.
However, Hector Bellerin [knee], Rob Holding [knee] and Danny Welbeck [ankle] remain unavailable for selection.
Betting odds & prediction
Arsenal are the 2.04 favourites with betolimp.com to win the first leg with Rennes available at odds of 3.89 while the draw can be backed at 3.54. Rennes sit 10th in Ligue 1 so Arsenal should be confident of getting a result here but it might not be straightforward. The Gunners have struggled to keep clean sheets all season away from home so ‘both teams to score’ looks a solid bet.
However, Arsenal should have enough firepower to come home with an away win and our predicted score is Rennes 1-2 Arsenal. According to the odds at betolimp south africa, the Gunners can be backed at odds of 8.25 to win 2-1 while Aubameyang to score first at 5.87 looks like an excellent bet to us.
Overall, this should be a reasonably open game with plenty of goal-scoring opportunities but Arsenal’s superiority should prove to be the deciding factor with Emery’s side taking control of the tie with a vital away victory.