An away fixture is always a nervy affair for fans but the indicators were that Arsenal would get a foothold in this Europa league first leg contest against Rennes, because of the supposed gulf in class.
Rennes are rooted mid-table in Ligue 1 and found qualification from their group a struggle. The Gunners had not lost an away game to a French side on the previous 12 occasions and qualified without much of a problem but all this counts for little when the big stage beckons.
So it proved, as the unfortunate dismissal of Sokratis, led Arsenal to reshape and rethink but sadly they made basic mistakes that would end in a hefty defeat. Needless tackles, free kicks and missed opportunities meant that Rennes would seize the initiative from a naive Arsenal side who conspired to make the winning of this trophy almost impossible.
Thankfully they have a precious away goal but they will have to score two at the Emirates with no reply and that doesn’t ease the concerns of the most die-hard fan.
Here are Player Ratings:
Cech – 7 – The veteran showed why he was the best keeper in the Premier League at one point, with a collection of superb saves, notably from HatemBenn Arfa. Without him, things could have been a lot worse.
Sokratis – 4 – The defender used less hunch and went with more crunch. I love the physicality of his game but on a yellow card, he blundered in like a novice. His sending off put Arsenal in a tailspin. Very poor show.
Mustafi – 6 – Neither exceptional nor disappointing. Did his bit at the back, although the tide was overwhelming. Offered little to the attack but that’s not his responsibility.
Koscielny – 8 – Narrowly takes Man of the Match from Cech. Both are the reason that Arsenal have any chance at all of salvaging this tie. Key clearances, interventions and decision making. Showed experience and class as everything crumbled around him.
Monreal – 5 – Had a good first half up until the equaliser but then the game turned and his lack of pace was a problem. This is likely to be his last season. Good going forward but he can’t recover his position and is past his best of a season or so ago.
Torreira – 6 – Worked tirelessly but not able to grab the game by the scruff or influence it in a positive way. After the sending off, he was more fire blanket than a fire hose.
Xhaka – 4 – Another duff showing which allows people like me to get on his case. Poor control, lacking concentration, sloppy passes and gun-ho tackles which could have cost Arsenal another player. He needs to be more consistent, good one game, shocking the next.
Ozil – 7 – The midfielder did really well, involved in the attack, finding space and threading moves together until the dismissal crimped his flow. In the second 45, Ozil became key with his ability to hold the ball when the pressure was on. The German put in a shift in attack and defence but the latter is not his strong point. Encouraging from the Emery/Ozil perspective.
Iwobi – 7 – Arsenal’s best player in the first half and certainly their main threat.
Fortuitous opening goal but nearly provided a second shortly after, his withdrawal left the Gunners flat and when he, Ozil and Aubameyang went off, it showed lack of ambition.
Mkhitaryan – 6 – Wasn’t exactly in the groove at the start but suffered terribly as a right back and will have nightmares for weeks to come. Did nothing to suggest resistance at the back or creativity going forward. Disappointing.
Aubameyang – 5 – His form seems to have deserted him like his touch. Never felt like he had a goal in him at any stage, unable to hold the ball and bring others into the game. Didn’t appear to have the know-how or appetite for this encounter and as the game went on, he didn’t merit being left on the pitch.
Do you want your Arsenal opinion to be heard? We are looking for Writers who can passionately represent their views. Get started by contacting us here: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us on Twitter here: @arsenalfever360. Picture lover? Follow our Instagram account here: arsenal_fever and LIKE us on Facebook here: Arsenal Fever