Arsenal travel to Roazhon Park to play Rennes in their Europa League Last 16 first leg clash with Unai Emery having a full-strength squad at his disposal
Arsenal will be hoping to continue their fine run of form when they face Rennes at Roazhon Park in their UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg clash on Thursday. And, Unai Emery travels to France with a near full-strength squad for the game, with no new injuries to deal with.
However, with games coming thick and fast, and with the Gunners set to face Manchester United this weekend, the manager is likely to rotate a few personnel. Emery could provide some much-needed rest to key players including Granit Xhaka and captain Laurent Koscielny, while he may also bring some stars such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac back into the lineup for the Rennes clash.
During his pre-match press conference, Emery was asked about the gruelling schedule and the Arsenal manager chose to say that it is all a part and parcel of the game.
“It’s not an excuse for us. We have the habit to play a lot of matches week by week. We played Saturday, rested Sunday and started to work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Tomorrow I think we are going to be OK to play every player. For us it’s a very important match and we need to do [our job] individually and collectively.”
Bernd Leno will take his place on the bench, with Petr Cech the preferred option between the posts for the Europa League. As iterated earlier, Maitland-Niles could come back into the side after missing a few games through illness, while Koscielny will likely be rested, with Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis set to form the central defensive partnership. Nacho Monreal could be replaced by Kolasinac at left-back.
Lucas Torreira, who is suspended for three domestic games will be a sure starter in central midfield, with Matteo Guendouzi being his partner, while Xhaka might be rested.
Mesut Ozil could come back into the side and replace Aaron Ramsey in the no. 10 role, with the Welshman looking like a sure starter against Manchester United at the weekend. Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s rich vein of form means the Arsenal manager is unlikely to drop him anytime soon, while Denis Suarez could finally make his first start for the club since signing on loan in January.
Another topic of discussion was Alexandre Lacazette’s ban, and Emery said, “Maybe it can be a surprise and maybe not, it depends, but we know usually when you have a red card, you can take a minimum one and maximum three [game ban].”
“I spoke to him and he said he asked for one match and in the worst position, I said to him in my opinion it was three. It is between one and three for the suspension. But we have players and we have confidence for other players to play without Lacazette in this match.”
With Lacazette still serving his suspension, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will lead the line for Arsenal, hoping to make amends for the poor penalty miss against Tottenham last weekend.