Arsenal will leave it as late as possible before naming their side as they wait on the fitness of Henrikh Mkhitaryan as to take on French side Rennes in tonight’s Europa league last 16 second leg at the Emirates Stadium.
After missing the 2-0 win over his former club Manchester United at the weekend, Arsenal boss Unai Emery will give the Armenian international every chance to prove he has overcome his back injury.
Also available after winning his appeal to have his three match ban reduced to two is striker Alexandre Lacazette (pictured) who sat out last weeks 3-1 first leg defeat but returned to play a major role at the weekend. He will be joined by Lucas Torreria who is also recalled after finishing his domestic ban.
Speaking about the return of his inform striker Lacazette, Emery told the BBC;
“We all know how important Alex is to us as a group, Obviously the more players we have available the better it is because we do have some quality players, particularly in midfield and up top. Hopefully we will be able to make that danger pay.
“Let's just hope that Lacazette can help us to achieve the result on Thursday.”
The Gunners had taken an early lead in the first half in France thanks to Alex Iwobi, but just couldn’t handle the French attack once defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent for prior to the half time whistle for a second bookable offence, which lead to Renne equalising within a minute of Arsenal being reduced to ten men.
The sending off was the turning point of the game as Emery explained;
“I think in terms of the game last week it was a very different game until the red card to Sokratis, I think we were in control of the match and we'd obviously taken an early lead, but the red card did change things and Rennes were able to take advantage of things.”
“With that being said, we do have confidence that we're going to give a very big performance tomorrow and go through to the next round.”
Despite their advantage Rennes boss Julien Stephen’s still believes his side are the underdogs saying they will need at least two away goals to qualify for the quarter finals as he told reporters;
“Arsenal remain favourites given their past and their experience,” The only thing I think is that we will need to score there, at least once, if not twice.”
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