Tag Archives: rennes

Match Report: Arsenal 3 – 0 Rennes

Arsenal (2) 3 Rennes (0) 0
UEFA Europa League, Round of 16, Second Leg
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Thursday, 14th March 2019. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Čech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Ramsey, Xhaka; Kolašinac, Özil, Lacazette; Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Mkhitaryan, Torreira, Iwobi, Leno, Suárez, Guendouzi, Nketiah
Scorers: Aubameyang (2), Maitland-Niles
Yellow Card: Kolašinac, Aubameyang, Lacazette, Mkhitaryan
Referee: Andris Treimanis (Latvia)
Attendance: circa 50,000

And so, finally, our Europa League challenge continues in style. And who would have thought it two weeks ago? Somehow, we have lifted ourselves up, propelled ourselves into the quarter-finals of the Europa League, and, even better than that, we are knocking on the door of third position in the Premiership. Wow. And in March as well!

Right from the kick-off, Arsenal showed intent and determination to right that wrong of last week in France. Just five minutes into the match, not only did we grab the moment to push ourselves into the lead, but it was how we did it became paramount. Ainsley Maitland-Niles received a lovely backheeled pass from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who in turn slotted it to Aaron Ramsey who whipped a cross in for the man who started the slick movement underway, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, to score easily from close range. There’s nothing like a goal early on in the game to liven things up a bit, so Arsenal came forward again and again until the Rennes defence simply gave way, like water rushing through a breached dam.

We do love our controversies here at Arsenal, so the second goal simply underlined the fact. In a move reminiscent of the horrific 1932 FA Cup Final incident against Newcastle United, the wonderful Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang crossed the ball (when many thought it was over the byline, but TV proved it wasn’t) for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to move, almost ghost-like around the back of the Rennes defenders to head a powerful goal into the net for our second of the night, and the most important, as this one equalised the score over the two legs. Funnily enough, from this point until the half-time break, we become rather scrappy and at times looked quite lacklustre; but the good news was that we did get to half-time two-up, and more importantly we didn’t leak any unnecessary goals in the thirty-minute period from the second goal being scored to the ref’s whistle to signify the start of the break.

The second half saw some heartstopping moments with M’Baye Niang hitting the post with a thunderous shot, along with some rather tasty tackles being implemented by both sides. Four players on both sides were booked, and it seemed a matter of time before someone would receive the dreaded red card; thankfully it was not to be, as cool heads prevailed, and Mr. Emery bought on Lucas Torreira, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi for Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil and Alexandre Lacazette deep into the half. These inspired substitutions completely invigorated Arsenal, and we now were confident, ascendant and dominant. Around fifteen minutes from the end, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the final goal that placed us into Friday’s quarter-final draw. Fresh legs are always important at this stage of the match, and the pace of Henrikh Mkhitaryan certainly made all the difference here. After some lovely passing movements between Sead Kolašinac and himself, a low cross found the hero of the night, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who stabbed it into the back of the net with some aplomb for the third and final goal of the night; he celebrated in unique style courtesy of a Black Panther mask, which is also the emblem of Gabon, his home country.

A magnificent performance by all players, who finally understood the importance not only of this competition, but how critical Arsenal is to the people who really count, the paying spectators in The Emirates Stadium. Our next match is on April Fools’ Day here in North London against Newcastle United; could this be the match that pushes us into third place in the Premiership? It’s all to play for now, chaps. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

Arsenal face tough task at home to Rennes

I am concerned about tonight.

Arsenal really should have put the tie to bed in that first leg.

Prior to Sokratis’ sending off, it was all Arsenal. We should have scored 2 or 3. Not for the first time this season we failed to get that second goal. I am confident had we got that, we would have gone on to win comfortably.

Instead it all fell apart when Sokratis received an extremely harsh second yellow which reduced Arsenal to 1-men.

Let’s get things right. It was not a yellow card. The players came together, tangled themselves. It was not even a foul. And from the resulting free kick Rennes equalised with a stunning finish.

If the first was a world class strike from a free kick that should never have been given, the second was down to simple bad luck – the ball deflecting off of Monreal. Own goal.

I could have taken a 2-1 defeat. Not the best result. But it was also not the worst, circumstances considering.

1 goal down with the away goal in the bag, Rennes not overly looking threatening despite having 11 men. You would back Arsenal to overturn the deficit quickly like they did against BATE Borisov.

Instead, in the 88th minute, Arsenal shot themselves in the foot conceding the 3rd goal froma counter attack.

I remember a game a few years ago against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League group stages.

Having been 1-0 down at home, Olivier Giroud had made it 1-1 at half time. With 10 minutes to go. Arsenal were pushing forward. Wave after wave of attack. They were hit on the counter attack and lost the game 2-1 with Robert Lewandowski scoring with just over 5 minutes to go.

Better game management would have recognised that a draw was not a bad result. Would have left Arsenal not pushing forward as aggressively, and resulted in both sides leaving north London with a point.

In the end Arsenal did manage to qualify from a tough group including Napoli and Marseille.

The first leg against Rennes was similar.

Arsenal players (and management) should have recognised that 2-1 with the away goal was not a bad result. Especially down to 10-men. To be hit on the break and end up losing 3-1 was simply down to poor in-game management.

So now instead of needing just the single goal tonight to be leading the game, we need 2. It will a tough task.

Saying that, Arsenal were all over Rennes prior to Sokratis’ sending off. They could not cope with us.

With it being a 2 goal deficit, Arsenal know that they need to attack, attack, attack. And with that away goal in the back, Arsenal now it does not really matter if we concede one.

Rennes will set up to frustrate Arsenal. To protect what they have. It is a game to play Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with Grant Xhaka holding.

It does not matter if we concede one, we still need to score 3.

Go out and be aggressive. Start the men who can unpick the lock and have Xhaka dictating the play from deep.

The majority of the play tonight will be in Rennes half.

It really is a simple game plan.

Leave the central defenders (Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi) on the half way line. Xhaka just infront of them, and pile everyone else forward.

Bernd Leno has to be on his toes.

As we saw against Manchester United at the weekend, he is good at coming out of his goal. He will need to remain close to the edge of the box to cut out the long balls over the top.

Am I confident about tonight? No. Do I still expect us to go through? Yes.

We need to keep the dual paths to qualifying for the Champions League open.


The Premier League should NOT follow Europe’s lead and re-arrange games prior to European fixtures

There has been a lot of fuss in the news recently abut leagues cancelling weekend games to give their sides more time to prepare for a European tie.

This is not a new thing. Back in the early 2000s, the Portuguese league cancelled a whole host of games for Porto to help them out. They won the Champions League.

In France the game between Rennes and Nimes was postponed. The same happened in Holland for Ajax and in Germany they have moved weekend games to a Friday to give sides an extra day.

With Ajax beating Real Madrid, an argument could be made that moving their domestic game helped them into the Champions League Quarter Finals.

We have had Mauricio Pochettino complain that English teams need more help and games should be re-arranged at late notice.

Despite the obvious benefits of moving a game, I am against the Premier League following suit. Weekend games prior to European games should not be moved.

I go home and away. I have a season ticket for both.

Already match going fans are screwed over left, right and centre by TV companies.

Games are moved at late notice to satisfy Sky Sports or BT Sports, moved to times when fans have little to no chance getting public transport back. The majority of the time we miss out on cheaper train tickets for away games.

The situation is already awful; the Premier League shifting games at even later notice for European football will only make things worse.

It is not just away fans, but also home fans that are affected.

Imagine a scenario where a fan from Norway or America has booked flights and hotels, only for the game to be moved. And even closer to home, fans from Ireland on Newcastle. These guys would have to get flights, trains and hotels for a game in North London.

Even just moving a game backwards a day – from Saturday to Friday – like what has happened in the Bundesliga can create huge ramifications.

Most fans would travel late on Friday (after work) or early Saturday. Bringing it to a Friday evening kick off would mean changing flights, hotels and taking a day off work.

And it is not just Arsenal fans that I am thinking of. It is opposing fans as well.

Look at the situation in France.

The game between Rennes and Nimes was postponed on 25 February. This was 5 days before the game was set to be played.

It did not just create issues for Rennes fans but also for Nimes fans.

It is 480 miles from Nimes to Rennes. Fans of Nimes would have already booked flights and trains for the game. How is it fair on them that the game is cancelled to help out Rennes?

Imagine if Arsenal were at home to Newcastle last Saturday, and the Premier League decided to postpone the game at FIVE days notice. This would be unfair of Newcastle fans.

And then you have when the games are re-arranged too.

The fixtures list is already crowded. Games would have to be rearranged to mid week.

This would mean time off work, hotels, more expensive trains, and even many fans no longer being able to go.

And is it really fair on all sides?

If they are moving an Arsenal game to give more time to prepare for a European tie, should they not do the same for FA Cup replays and mid-week League Cup games. And what about relegation 6 pointers?

Whilst from a “success” point of view moving games does make sense – the weekend break gives teams more time to prepare – the majority of match going fans would not be happy with a game moving at late notice.

Clubs need to do more to look after the interests of match going fans. They are the life blood of the club. Football without fans is nothing. Football is a not a TV show. If leagues start moving games at late notice for European football, it will show that they do not care for match going fans. It will further increase the gap between fans and clubs.

Sides spend millions on wages and have 25-man squads. The more successful a side the better (and more) players they have. It is up to those sides to manage their squads.

Ultimately, when you look at the list of Champions League winners over the last decade, none of been helped by fixtures being re-arranged.

Nimes, PEC Zwolle and PSV Eidenhoven have all questioned the fixtures with Rennes and Ajax being moved and have sought legal action.

Moving fixtures for European football will be just another dagger in the heart for match goings fans.