Arsenal host Rennes on Thursday night in their Europa League last-16 second leg match. The Gunners were well-beaten in the first leg 3-1 by the surprise package French side. Rennes had overcome Real Betis in the previous round to set up their tie with Arsenal. Now, they have the chance to upset the Gunners and progress to the quarterfinals.
Unai Emery has received a major boost ahead of the Gunners’ game. Striker Alexandre Lacazette’s three-match ban has been cut short and he will be available for Thursday night.
The striker had been sent off in Arsenal’s first leg match against BATE Borisov in the round of 32. His straight red card meant he was banned for three games.
However, UEFA has reduced the ban and Lacazette will now play.
Rennes will have two of their key players back from suspension as well. Striker M’Baye Niang, who was the team’s hero against Betis, will return. The former AC Milan and Watford striker is a formidable attacker and can stretch defences.
Full-back Hamari Traore is also available for the match as he returns from suspension as well.
Arsenal not only received a boost in terms of Lacazette’s ban being reduced, but they will also welcome back midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan to the side.
The midfielder is recovering from injury and is expected to “participate” in the game. Mkhitaryan has been suffering from a back injury. The inclusion of Lacazette and Mkhitaryan are massive to the Gunners’ attempts to overcome their 3-1 deficit.