Another European journey beckons for Arsenal, who travel to North West France to take on Ligue 1 side Rennes tonight.
While there’s an exponential level of financial difference between the two sides, Unai Emery will remain cautious after suffering a humiliation against BATE Borisov last month. Indeed, as Gunners fans will know, they really don’t tend to make things easy in the slightest.
Clearly, the Gunners will have half a mind towards the crunch clash against Manchester United on Sunday but need to try and wrap things up at France in order to make things easier going forward. That’s obvious. But Arsenal don’t often think that way.
Going in with an overly confident, almost nonchalant approach which came back to haunt them against BATE cannot be undertaken again. Few would bet against the Premier League giants winning over two legs but failing to batter the opposition tonight will make the end of their season so much harder.
After his experimentation failed, Emery shouldn’t risk an ambitious 3-man defence anymore.
Instead of trying to be overly defensively and grind through a draw, he should instead take the game to Rennes in a controlled manner. That’s the perfect scenario and almost stating the obvious but Emery has struggled to do that at times this season.
Obviously, Arsenal has enough attacking firepower to breach the enemy lines, as they should give Mesut Ozil and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang chances to shine. The two have developed a special bond, linking up amazingly and causing trouble to every opposition.
Neither started against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday and, to a large extent, that worked. This, though, is a different task altogether and the attack needs loading up.
Ozil thrives during such European nights and can torment Rennes with his movement and creativity, while Aubameyang can finish off the chances. Instead of going with error-prone defenders like Shkodran Mustafi, he should go with a stronger side instead of resting them for the United game.
Right now, a potential Europa League victory is more important than a Premier League top-four spot for Arsenal. Unai Emery needs to set his tactics accordingly and seal the deal in the first leg itself and head into the United game high in confidence.
Gooners, do you think Arsenal should try to win the tie in the first leg itself? Join the discussion by commenting below.