Arsenal will return to Europa League action this week. They will travel to Rennes for the first leg of their R16 clash against Rennes. It is undoubtedly an important clash for the London side who will look to overcome a major hurdle and wrap up the tie in this leg itself.
A draw at the North London Derby has gifted their long time rivals Manchester United the fourth place. Arsenal will need to recover from the shock late penalty miss which would certainly have ensured a win in the all important North London Derby and focus on the task at hand as their Europa League clash with Stade Rennes beckons.
Further they will be facing Manchester United at home in a the league, in a couple of days time after the Europa League fixture hence will also need to keep on eye on the weekend game during their preparations for this one.
Its time the club got their act together and started played the Arsenal way. Already out from the domestic cup competitions, Arsenal only have the league and Europa league to focus on with the European second tier competition representing their only chance at a silverware this season.
A top four finish in the league and conquering the Europa League would essentially deem this season as a successful first for Unai Emery and Arsenal.
Here is how Arsenal should be lining up for the clash against Stade Rennes :
Formation : 4-2-3-1
Goalkeeper : Petr Cech
The experienced veteran is an undoubted number one choice for the fixture against Stade Rennes. His playing time has been limited to cup competitions this season after the arrival of Bernd Leno and progress in competitions like these will essentially determine how many game time the legendary shot-stopper will get in his last season of professional football.
He will surely start between the sticks on Thursday as Arsenal face Rennes in what is certainly an all important match for the London club with regards to their Europa League fortunes.
Defenders : Sead Kolasinac, Sokratis, Laurent Koscielny, Ainsley Maintland Niles
Defense has been Arsenal’s Achilles heel this season. They will look to start with a trusted combination of defenders who have held the fort many a times for the Gunners all throughout the season. Laurent Koscielny’s commanding presence in the defence will give the visitors an added boost and much needed stability at the back. His recent performances against Bournemouth were proof of what Arsenal had been missing all season.
The full backs have recently performed pretty well both defensively and offensively. Although Rennes are currently 10th in the French league, Arsenal shouldn’t be taking any chances for such an important European cup competition tie. They will need to be rock solid at the back and form a cohesive defensive unit unless they want to embarrass themselves like last time out in Belarus.
Midfielders : Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira
These two midfielders have been one of the most important reasons why Arsenal have conceded fewer goals at the back this season. They have worked really hard to provide valuable cover to the wafer-thin Arsenal defense.
Torreira has been exceptional in terms of winning the recovering possession and intercepting key passes. The duo can boss the midfield on their day and would be vital for Arsenal in France.
Forwards: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Aubameyang
Considering the importance of the Europa League and that fact that inexperience doesn’t win you honours, Unai will be forced to play three of his most experienced players up front for this game.
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The combination of Mkhitaryan, Ozil and Ramsey can unlock the toughest of defences. With Aubameyang ahead, all the trio have to do is feed him with delicious crosses, through balls and teasing passes which is very their cup of tea.
Expect a goal fest if the forward attacking combination can compliment each other as well as they should and produce a footballing spectacle for all watching.