Arsenal left themselves a lot to do in the second leg of the last 16 contest with Rennes but they eventually made it look reasonably comfortable. A confident, opportunist header from Maitland-Niles at the far post, in between goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, saw Arsenal continue in the Europa league.
Aubameyang got the Gunners off to the perfect start within 5 minutes. Maitland-Niles and Ramsey did all the work to leave the Gabonese striker with the simplest of tasks.
Rennes tried to recapture their form of a week ago but Arsenal, under Europa League specialist Unai Emery, were tactically well prepared for this contest and never really looked in danger of being dumped up with their wealth of attacking options.
The North London club can’t afford any more slip-ups in this competition as the quality of the opposition improves. Arsenal did what they had to do and did it well but who stood out for you?
Here are Arsenal Player Ratings:
Cech – 6 – Occasionally had to get out of his armchair to look busy but rarely inconvenienced.
Mustafi – 6 – Makes me nervous at times but put in a fairly non-calamitous shift by his own standards, benefits from Koscielny’s presence.
Koscielny – 7 – Despite my reservations after his long term injury, he has become Captain dependable. Always ready to snuff out trouble with any part of his body. Strong and courageous.
Monreal – 7 – A better performance from the Spaniard who has looked rusty and off the pace in recent weeks. He has struggled to regain fitness. This is more like it.
Maitland Niles – 8 – Out of his favoured position but what a player this boy is. Bags of potential and loves going on the attack. He looked dangerous as he pressed forward and took his goal well as defenders came from every direction. Impressive.
Xhaka – 6 – Continues to frustrate at times by trying to force the game and as a result gives the ball away unnecessarily, against better opposition that will be a problem. Better in the first half than the second, I would have subbed him for Torriera and left Ramsey on.
Ramsey – 7 – Another solid performance from the Welshman in his final season and one hopes he gets the reward for his service. The Usual “where’d he come from” runs.
Showed class and determination plus a nice touch for Aubameyang’s opener.
Kolasinac – 8 – I love this guy, everything I want from a player. Strong, committed and determined. Provides deliciously wicked crosses for the front men, another good display here. Excellent going forward and put in a few useful tackles to keep Rennes at bay.
Ozil – 6 – Becoming quite the team player, the usual show of classy touches. Made himself available and tried to make things happen. Allowed others the room by drawing the defenders attention.
Aubameyang – 9 – Where did this performance come from? So often plays second fiddle to Lacazette in terms of involvement, that he looks peripheral at times but he really wanted this. The last few occasions, I’ve said that he looked off colour but not tonight. If I had a grumble, it’s that he should have had a hat trick to his name.
Lacazette – 7 – Not in the goals but put in his usual committed performance. Without his presence, Aubameyang may not have been able to find room to operate. Always willing to make something happen.
Iwobi – 7 – Looked sharp and full of running, made an immediate impact with the introduction of fresh legs and with the clock running down. The brunt of supporters frustrations but never lets his head drop. He’s a keeper.
Mkhitaryan – 7 – Came on and got involved straight away. Looked solid and played to his strengths by linking with attack and padding out defensive positions when needed.
Torriera – 6 – Came on for Ramsey and took up his usual fire blanket position. Applied his touch to squeeze the life out of the game and see Arsenal home, comfortable performance.
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