Arsenal lost away at Rennes in the first leg clash in their Europa League last 16 clash this season. The Gunners lost 3-1 in France but bounced back over the weekend to beat bitter rivals Manchester United at the Emirates. The Gunners need a convincing win to progress to the next round and Unai Emery has charged the fans to get behind the team and push them on.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery has urged a big effort from Gunners fans at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night to get behind the team as they look to overturn a 3-1 aggregate deficit against Rennes in the Europa League last 16 and progress to the quarter finals.
Arsenal crumbled in the first leg in France after a first half red card to Sokratis Papastathopoulos and now need to summon even more character than it took to overturn a smaller aggregate deficit against BATE Borisov in the previous round. “We are very demanding of ourselves,” Emery told a press conference, via Arsenal.com.
“For us, it’s one positive issue because we want to play big matches, tough matches against the best teams – and in the Europa League we are finding some results like the last round against BATE Borisov with difficulty,” the Spanish coach added. “I want to play matches that are difficult, with difficult results or with difficult players.
“We need to be together and create a big atmosphere in the Emirates with our supporters to help us to do the best performance possible in 90 minutes. We need to play with high emotion with our supporters but taking decisions on the pitch cleverly with our mind. This is both important issues that we need to control over 90 minutes and maybe more.”
Sokratis will be suspended, but Arsenal will have Alexandre Lacazette back earlier than expected after his UEFA ban was cut on appeal and midfielder Lucas Torreira hopes the French forward can help make the crucial difference on the night.
“We all know how important Alex Lacazette is to us as a group and obviously the more players we have available, the better it is because we do have some quality players, particularly in midfield and up top,” Torreira said, via Arsenal.com.
His reference to events in the previous round speaks to Arsenal’s troubles in Europe’s second-tier cup competition this season. The Gunners suffered an embarrassing 1-0 defeat away to BATE Borisov in the first leg of the Round of 32.
While Arsenal were able to turn things around with a 3-0 win at the Emirates Stadium, Rennes will be a tougher proposition when they visit north London. The Ligue 1 side proved their credentials earlier this month by cutting through Emery’s team with pace, intuition and purpose.
Altough the odds are against Emery and his Arsenal side, victory would be a good moment for Emery to offer a reminder of his expertise in this tournament. His decorated history with the trophy needs to be reflected with better results in a competition which represents his last chance for silverware in his first season in charge. Winning it for a fourth time would endorse Emery’s status as a worthy successor to Wenger.