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Arsenal vs Rennes: Home-loving Gunners to overcome handicap

Rennes vs Arsenal Match Preview and Predictions

Arsenal have a mountain to climb if they are to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League after losing the first leg 3-1 in France.

[All odds correct at time of publication] 

The Gunners were in total control at 1-0 up courtesy of Alex Iwobi's third-minute opener with a cross-cum-shot which curled inside Tomas Koubek's far post.

But the match turned on a second yellow card for defender Sokratis four minutes before half-time and from the resulting free-kick Benjamin Bourigeaud scored with a thunderbolt from the rebound. A Nacho Monreal own goal and Ismaila Barr header then put the Brittany side in command of the tie.

Match information

When is it? Thursday March 14th

What time is kick-off? 20:00

Where is it being played? Emirates Stadium

Which channel is it on? BT Sport 2

Who is the referee? Andris Treimanis (Latvia)

Arsenal vs Rennes Betting Tips

Here are our best tips for the match for which we also have a range of other markets available:

The lowdown

Despite having to overcome a two-goal deficit, Arsenal start the second leg as 3/10 favourites to win over 90 minutes and are 7/1 to win the Europa League.

The Gunners warmed up for the game with a 2-0 victory over top-four rivals Manchester United which ended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's 12-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

Sokratis and Alexandre Lacazette, who started the win against United, were both initially suspended for Thursday's game, but the French striker has had his European ban reduced from three games to two on appeal so is available to face Rennes.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan missed Sunday's reunion with his former club because of a minor back problem although it is thought he will be fit to play.

Rennes climbed two places to eighth in Ligue 1 over the weekend as they got back to winning ways with a 3-1 comeback victory over relegation-threatened Caen, who had a player sent off in the 35th minute when they held a 1-0 lead.

The French side have lost their last three away games in Ligue 1 and were beaten twice on the road during the group stage of the Europa League, although they surprised many with a 3-1 second-leg win at Real Betis which secured their place in the round of 16.

The Gunners have been strong at home this season, winning three and drawing one of their matches against top-six Premier League sides, so the first of our Arsenal vs Rennes predictions is for Arsenal to win by at least two goals at 4/5.

Rennes lost by two-goal margins at Astana and Dynamo Kiev during the group stage - teams inferior to Arsenal - and recently suffered a 2-1 defeat at bottom-of-the-table Guingamp.

Julien Stephan's side also have the fifth worst defensive record away from home in Ligue 1, so Arsenal's prolific attack will be licking their lips on Thursday.

This weekend's best bets

If you're interested in football accumulators, check out our regular betting columns:

First goalscorer tips

Alex Iwobi may partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front even if Lacazette is available and looks good value to be the first goalscorer at 17/2.

The Nigeria attacker broke the deadlock with an early goal in the first leg and his brief will be to attack a Rennes defence known for conceding goals.

Anytime goalscorer tips

Lucas Torreira may not have scored in three months but the Uruguay midfielder went close to doubling Arsenal's lead in the first leg with a first-time shot inside the box which was directed straight at Koubek.

Torreira continues to get chances for the Gunners despite having a holding role and should Arsenal's cause start to get desperate, don't be surprised to see him getting into the area. Take the 6/1 on Torreira as an anytime goalscorer.

Europa League previews

If you're interested in more Europa League betting tips, check out our in-depth previews below:

Where the game will be won or lost

Arsenal were undoubtedly the better side up until Sokratis' dismissal at which point they could have been three goals up.

Gunners boss Unai Emery admitted as much after the game when he said: "I am positive in the first 40 minutes because I think, with respect to them, we imposed our gameplay in these moments.

"We can maybe score a second goal because we deserved to, but after it is really a very different match. But we are going to think, for the next week, we are going to start 11 against 11, without Sokratis and without Lacazette, but we have players."

The Spaniard is likely to urge his players to burst out of the blocks as they have done in their last four home games when they have taken the lead inside the first 12 minutes.

Three of those games have seen a goal by the sixth minute, but the next of our Arsenal vs Rennes betting tips is for the deadlock to be broken between 11-20 minutes at 15/4.

Arsenal have only once failed to score at home before half-time in the Premier League and Europa League since mid-December, while Rennes have conceded exactly one goal before the break in their last four games on the road using the same criteria.

We wrap up our Arsenal vs Rennes preview by predicting Arsenal will head into the interval 1-0 up at 49/20 as they have done in four of their last nine matches at the Emirates, excluding domestic cup ties.

Traders' Tips - View from the trading floor

Arsenal were in cruise control in France last week so as long as they keep their discipline should have too much for Rennes, but there may be a scare along the way. The Gunners to win and both teams to score at 7/4 looks the way to go bearing in mind Rennes have only twice failed to score on the road in all competitions this season.

80+ Minute Goal Insurance - Free Bet up to £/$/€20 if a goal scored after 80 minutes turns a winning bet into a loser. Applies to Premier League, Champions League & Europa League Match Result bets only. Min odds: 1/2 (1.50). Terms apply.

Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Football