Thursday 7 March: 5.55pm KO
Live on BT Sport
Arsenal are fifth in the Premier League, one position behind the Champions League qualification places. That means they might have to win the Europa League if they want to be playing Champions League football next season. Rennes are in the same position as they sit 10th in Ligue 1.
A late penalty miss on Saturday saw Arsenal miss out on the chance to retain their position in the top four of the Premier League. They could only draw 1-1 at Tottenham and ended the weekend in fifth place, a point behind Manchester United.
Last season, Arsenal found themselves in the position where their final league position wasn’t good enough to guarantee Champions League football. They still have a good chance of doing that this season but winning the Europa League would solve that problem. Unibet are currently offering odds of 11/2 (6.5) that the Gunners can win the Europa League this season.
They had few problems in the group stages of this competition. It was clear from the start that they would be fighting it out with Sporting Lisbon to win their group. That they did, winning all their group matches bar a home goalless draw with Sporting.
Arsenal won all three of their away games in the group stages without conceding a goal. Life was a bit tougher in the last 32 though as they lost 1-0 away to BATE Borisov before a comfortable 3-0 win in the second leg. They have played eight games in the Europa League so far this season and conceded only in two of them. You can get odds of 7/4 (2.75) at SkyBet that they return home from France without having conceded a goal.
Rennes are down in 10th in Ligue 1 and seven points adrift of the Europa League places. They finished second behind Dynamo Kiev in their Europa League group winning three and losing three. It wasn’t a bad achievement to get through to the knock-out stages considering they lost three of their first four games.
That led to a last 32 tie against Spain’s Real Betis. That look plain-sailing after going 2-0 up in ten minutes in the home first leg. It was 3-1 at half-time but Betis eventually returned home with a 3-3 draw equalizing in the 90th minute. The French side again got off to a good start in the away leg with two first-half goals and ran out 3-1 winners to reach the last 16 of this competition for the first time.
Rennes have failed to win either of their last two league games. They are on a six-game unbeaten home run in Ligue 1 with five straight clean sheets before conceding in a 1-1 draw with Marseille. Rennes are 3/1 (4.0) to get a win over Arsenal in this first leg.
This is the first time the two sides have met.
Arsenal will again field a weakened side for this Europa League tie.They have already used 30 players in this year’s competition. Petr Cech may be in goal against his former side. Definitely out is Alexandre Lacazette who is suspended after being sent off against BATE Borisov in the last 32.
A Late Goal?
The odds on the last goal in this game being scored between the 76th minute and full-time are 11/10 at Betway. Eight matches played by Rennes in the Europa League this season have seen six goals scored in that time period. That’s compared to four in Arsenal’s games.
Arsenal are 1/4 (1.25) at Sportingbet to reach the quarter-finals. They have won three of their four away games in the Europa League this season and take on an inconsistent Rennes. A bet on Arsenal to win in a game with under 2.5 goals being scored is 10/3 (4.33) at BoyleSports.