Arsenal have a mountain to climb after Rennes ran out 3-1 winners in France courtesy of a first-half red card to Sokratis.
Arsenal continued the trend of receiving a red card in consecutive games in all competition, although the one shown to Sokratis against Rennes proved way too costly for the Gunners. Following the first half sending off of the Greek defender, Rennes took full advantage of the extra man on the pitch to score three goals before full time to condemn Arsenal to a heavy defeat in Brittany.
Arsenal took the lead as early as the third minute with Alex Iwobi scoring after good work from Nacho Monreal from the left side. Since then Arsenal looked like they might score more although Rennes held their own in denying the Gunners on a few occasions. Sokratis later received his first yellow, in what looked like a harsh one, although there could be no qualms about the second one just before half time.
The subsequent free-kick was blocked by the wall, although Benjamin Bourigeaud then smashed the rebound beyond the reaches of Cech. The second goal came courtesy of sloppy defending from Arsenal, and the subsequent cross took a wicked deflection off Laurent Koscielny to give the hosts the lead. The third, however, was again result of bad defending as Ismailia Sarr headed past Cech to round up Arsenal’s night.
The Gunners need a special game at the Emirates next week during the return leg to progress to the next round of the Europa League quarters. The away goal scored by Iwobi might have been the only positive thing for Arsenal, and in the return leg, the Gunners need to score at least two and concede none to progress.
Here’s how Arsenal players rated during their defeat to Rennes.
Petr Cech – 7
Conceded three goals on his return to his former side, although credit to him to keep the scoreline that way. Made a string of excellent saves to deny Rennes’ attackers more goals as the hosts exposed Arsenal’s 10-men to full effect. All in all, it was an experienced showing from the veteran keeper.
Sokratis – 4
Sokratis has frequently shown his aggressive side while defending, although, here was a night when he couldn’t keep his cool and ensured he left the pitch way too early than his teammates. The Greek was booked in the first half and eight minutes from the first yellow, was booked again for a challenge outside the box. This was the turning point in the game as Rennes then scored three past Arsenal.
Laurent Koscielny – 7.5
If Arsenal have a chance to overcome Rennes in the second leg at the Emirates, it is primarily due to Koscielny. The ageless defender was a constant presence all over the pitch. He made tackles after tackles, got some crucial clearances and also stepped into midfield at times to pass the ball clearly rather than just evade the danger. Solid display but a disappointing result.
Shkodran Mustafi – 6
Mustafi had a decent game by his standards. He did look balanced in his different position at right-back, although he did commit to some good tackles and did not end up at the wrong side of challenges that he is so used to. The fact that he is not a natural right-back showed in his lack of possession and did move to centre-half after Sokratis’ sending off.
Nacho Monreal – 4
Monreal’s performance was neither of experience or intelligence. The Spaniard did have an excellent first half where he got the better of Sarr and also the assist for the opening goal, but was exposed for the lack of pace in the second period by the Senegal International. Was also responsible for the own goal, mainly when the initial cross was going outside and the player waiting for it was in an offside position.
Granit Xhaka – 4.5
Xhaka could have been the second Arsenal player to be sent off against Rennes, but he can count his stars for that did not happen. The Swiss had a decent half hour or so when he looked comfortable with the ball and was decent in possession. In the second period, however, he committed to silly fouls and gave away possession that summed up his night.
Lucas Torreira – 6
His importance was felt off the ball rather than when he had possession. Worked hard and although couldn’t take the game forward, he was one of the best Arsenal players in the second half barring Koscielny and Ozil.
Mesut Ozil – 7
An excellent performance from the German when others were a shadow of themselves. His hold up play was crucial and often was the outlet to ease pressure when Rennes attacked. He also put in a defensive shift and was subbed off for Ramsey as Emery looked for a more potent solution in attack.
Alex Iwobi – 6
Got the opening goal and that strike might just give Arsenal some hope going into the second game. Was a useful outlet in the attack in the first half and could have got an assist as Torreira’s shot was not well directed. In the second half was taken off as Emery looked for another option to salvage something out of the game.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 6.5
Mkhitaryan was playing at right back in the second half to cover for the missing person in defence. Right back is not his position by any standards, although he did do decently there, considering it was Hatem Ben-Arfa he was against. More importantly, his forward play with 11-men on the pitch was not significant.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 4
Not his best game and it showed when he repeatedly failed to keep hold of the ball, an area where Alexandre Lacazette has excelled. Missed some half chances and could have done better. Taken off in the second half as Arsenal looked to close the game down which even meant there were no recognised strikers on the pitch.
Matteo Guendouzi – 4
Not the brightest of games for the midfielder, considering his statements in the pre-game conference. Came off the bench to shore up the midfield, although was culpable for multiple offences of losing possession, lousy positioning and allowing the opposition to take control. Was mainly responsible for letting Sarr run over him in the build-up to the third goal.
Aaron Ramsey – 5
Emery clearly sent him on for his positional awareness and his energy that was desperately needed on the pitch. Ramsey, however, did not have much of an impact.
Sead Kolasinac – N/A
Not long on the pitch to be rated.