What’s the story?
Alexandre Lacazette was sent off when Arsenal faced Bate Borisov in the first leg back in mid-February. The French striker apologised for his actions and has since missed two consecutive European matches with the Gunners. However, after Arsenal’s appeal, UEFA has reduced the three-match ban for a straight red to just a two-match ban.
In case you didn’t know
Arsenallost the match in which Lacazette was given a straight red but the Gunners went on the win the return tie at the Emirates Stadium. They were drawn to face Rennes but experienced a shocking defeat in France last week. In a must-win match against Rennes on Thursday night, Lacazette will now be available for selection. It serves as a huge boost for the home side or else they can only rely on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the main striker.
The heart of the matter
Fans from Rennes were furious with the decision as it appears that UEFA is making things easier for the Gunners to advance into the quarterfinals. Lacazette played an instrumental role in Arsenal’s significant victory over Manchester United last weekend.
His return to the team will help Emery plot a comeback at home. Finishing in top-four now seems much more achievable after the Gunners beat United, but for Emery who has won three consecutive Europa League titles with Sevilla, he is certainly not admitting defeat in the European competition that early.
It will be interesting to see if the manager will pick a similar line-up to the one which faced the Red Devils. Sokratis will miss the tie through suspension but the Gunners welcome back Lucas Torreira who has been suspended after seeing red in the North London derby match.
Arsenal will go all out to beat Rennes at the Emirates Stadium which has now become a fortress for the club. Thereafter, they will have a long break before returning to action in April.