Rennes Preview: Diamond’s Are A Goal’s Best Friend

I don’t know if Unai Emery will make that change to Sunday’s formation but I like the thought of a midfield diamond pressurising Rennes into surrender this season. The French side being unable to sustain any semblance of defence after wave after wave of Arsenal attack as we cruise to a 5 – 0 half-time lead before reaching double-figures at the full-time whistle.

That Arsenal have only once overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit in a European tie is the black cloud hovering overhead. And that was in 1970. No group games don’t count; get a grip FFS.

The romanticism about the competition recently stems only from the cracking KNOCKOUT games in Madrid and Turin. Don’t ask me to include United and Liverpool in that; I didn’t watch either. There’s no cheering British clubs in our house, unless it is Arsenal. How does anyone switch from wanting a team to lose, thinking of them as worse than the spawn of the devil, to cheering them on as if they are the sons of Christ? Although the sons of Christ sounds like a religious biker gang with a bit of devilry in them.

Anyway, it’s time to turn my limited attention span to this evening’s match. Rennes picked up their pitchforks, lit their torches and railed against not only Alexandre Lacazette’s suspension being lifted but also switching the tie around to suit us.

Surprisingly, the latter wasn’t an issue at 90 minutes last week but obviously, things change. Be prepared for a Rennes appeal to UEFA when they have a last-minute goal disallowed for a dubious offside call. I’m not saying the referee and his assistants are likely to do so just that, well, we never get this kind of luck with UEFA before.

Hey, Hatem Ben Arfa…

Some fear Unai’s natural conservatism; he went for it with his team selection on Sunday, why not again. Indeed, beyond Sokratis’ suspension, do we need any changes for this match? I don’t think so, and that includes Cech. Sorry, Petr but we need to qualify and Leno’s distribution is better than yours.

Mustafi will come in on the right of defence but the team which beat United did so well. A little open on occasion, I confess, which is why I think Leno is preferable given his form. So, that’s the German on form and distribution; we’re going with Cech, aren’t we?

It’s a night which calls for high intensity but also guile; Ramsey and Ozil fit the bill, provided the latter turns up, of course, but I’m assuming he will given he played well on Sunday. Fitting Lucas Torreira into the starting line-up suggests a back-four to accommodate the Uruguayan.

I don’t know; Unai has a habit of picking the weird and wonderful at times when football’s received wisdom is to not change a line-up which played well the previous game. Nobody believes in that stuff any more, surely? Since the rules were changed to accommodate a second XI on the bench, wrecking Reserve football in the process, consistency of team selection is hard to find. Managers and coaches all tinker around the edges to the extent that if you refer to Ranieri as the ‘Tinkerman’, it no longer makes sense. Data is king, just don’t tell Zuckerberg that.

Right, having wafted through 500-odd words, it is time to post the XI to the corkboard:

Cech; AMN, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Torreira; Ramsey, Xhaka, Ozil; Aubameyang, Lacazette

There are plenty of variants tonight, all with the singular aim of ramming reminding Rennes that celebrating after the first leg is a dangerous thing to do.

Controlled Passion

Unai expects the players to think through the mists of a burning desire to win. Controlled passion, you could call it. One where the badge on the shirt brings pride and courage to the fore without leaving the defence exposed. Rennes, I’m sure, will play on the counter as their prime task is not to concede an early goal. Patience is also vital for us, as well as them. They will get opportunities, we ‘re that kind of team; the task is keeping those to a bare minimum and making sure they aren’t costly.

Can we do it? Just to puncture some ‘big club arrogance’, they are unbeaten in six with five wins by a two-goal margin. However, Rennes lost two of the last three on their travels by scorelines which would see them eliminated tonight.

Anderlecht stands as a proud beacon in the club’s history but really, the only two-goal deficit overturned?That needs changing.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

72 thoughts on “Rennes Preview: Diamond’s Are A Goal’s Best Friend

  1. Bill says:

    Cbob from yesterday @ 11:59

    You may be right about Harry Kane but its my suspicion the idea that they do it all the time and we have only done it once might be influenced by our predetermined bias and not be accurate. You mentioned that same phenomenon of being influenced by our own likes and dislikes in the second paragraph of your comment.

    With regard to the refs I agree with your idea that they might be influenced by their own likes and dislikes. The thing I don’t understand is what possible reason could their be for a institutional love of all the other big teams especially ManU and even stranger is the idea that the refs favor Spurs for some reason but the the refs have a fraternity wide subconscious dislike of Arsenal? That makes very little sense to me. Again its just my opinion but I suspect our own likes and dislikes influence the way we see the refs performances.

  2. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Thanks YW

    Good to hear Rennes are getting their excuses in early. A negative mindset can only help us.

    Formation wise I agree Leno should play but I don’t really want a back 4 including AMN , Mustafi & even Monreal now….so I’d go with wing backs again.
    If nothing else it gets our most effective player recently, Kolasinac, into the side. Toreirra would be on the bench. He’s not been great for a while & if missing out is a consequence of suspension then welcome to the big time !
    Ozil , Mikhi or even Iwobi ….I’ve no idea. Rock , paper , scissors ? Clearly Lacazette & Aubameyang have to start.

    Patitience & discipline are the key tonight. Show enough of both & we’ve got a good chance.

  3. consolsbob says:


    I am sure that there is truth in your comment concerning bias, Bill. As for an ‘institutional’ bias being unlikely your view might be formed by your non British birthplace.

    Her, you grow up with the constant media fawning over the very two clubs that you mention and Liverpool as well. In the sixties and seventies when I wqs growing up. Almost everyone in the playground would have been a Spurs or Manu fan. That changed in the ‘80’s to include Liverpool.

    Arsenal have never been a favourite of the media for very long, a short time around the early Wenger sides only, I would say. Even then I remember the gloating when our unbeaten run was ended by a filthy manu side. The gloating would have been censor if the roles had been reversed.

    Favouritism is real. People like to fit into the mainstream. It is uncomfortable to be outside the fold for most. Me, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

  4. C says:

    Before I read the post…..Personally I’m glad Deschamps continues to not pick Lacazette for France but the shear fact that Martial, Giroud and Thauvin have been selected ahead of Lacazette is beyong belief. First Deschamps tells him through the press he has to play and play well; he does that and apparently he hasn’t played well enough haha.

    O well, that just means we will get an extra motivated Lacazette tonight which bodes extremely well for Arsenal!

  5. C says:

    I absolutely wouldn’t mind seeing a diamond, give them waves of attack while still having enough cover.


  6. jw1 says:

    “That Arsenal have only once overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit in a European tie is the black cloud hovering overhead. And that was in 1970. No group games don’t count; get a grip FFS.”

    But oh, so close. 2012 CL RD of 16.
    Milan 4-3 Arsenal (Agg).
    Arsenal 3-0 at half. Multiple other opportunities in the second half. Seemed impossible Arsenal did not score to level.


  7. Damon says:

    Dotcom’s “The brief” (hate that title, surely it’s always obvious – WIN!) doesn’t mention the 1970 occassion? In fact, they say we’ve only progressed from a tie having lost the first leg 3 times in our European history?


  8. YW says:

    I’m sure they’d argue we didn’t progress from 1970 final…

    At least they acknowledge I wasn’t wrong! We have a piss-poor record after losing the first leg.

  9. ferkov says:

    Don’t recall the anderlecht game…… though it was my first season supporting Arsenal. I was only 4 mind.
    Do remember killing Milan in the first half. Another oh so close.
    Speaking of which, Monaco . I was there. It even looked like we’d done it in the last minute aswell. … please, not one of those nearly nights again.
    Can’t watch tonite, prearranged to go see Banff Mountain film festival. ..that’s for Bill. He might be in it.

  10. C says:

    Team news is in:

    Arsenal: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette

  11. jw1 says:


    But what a great effort.
    A moment worth mulling once again. *sigh*


  12. Welsh corgi cardigans says:

    Starting strong, good stuff. Think we got momentum with us. COYG.

  13. C says:

    Subs: Leno, Guendouzi, Mkhitaryan, Suarez, Iwobi, Torreira, Nketiah

  14. C says:

    I know its not CL night but this feels as big as the last CL night under Arsene because not just the potential for us turning and winning the tie, but could really push us on in belief both in the Europa League and ij our bid to get 4th.

  15. Welsh corgi cardigans says:

    Way to start, great. Now for a second.

  16. Noon Gunner says:

    Dynamite in attack! No mistake header by ANN!

  17. Noon Gunner says:

    That was 20 minutes of Requisite Intensity. Now to sustain it…

  18. Dukey says:

    Any chance of Stuart Robson being biased on bt commentary in our favour being an ex player like mcmanamanamanaman and hargreaves and co do for their old clubs?

  19. consolsbob says:

    These Rennes players are a right bunch of whingers

  20. Noon Gunner says:


    Their Andre has just proved your point, Bob. Laca obviously sliced his leg off in a dimension not visible to the rest of us.

  21. Dukey says:

    Going to really miss Rambo when he goes. Emery better have someone fitter and younger lined up to replace him!!

  22. Noon Gunner says:

    Our tackling is ferocious tonight, as against United. Could this become a habit??

  23. Noon Gunner says:

    The ref had better not ruin this game.

  24. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    So far so good. Ozil is playing well

  25. C says:


    This version of Ramsey absolutely. He is starting deeper but its almost as if, once in the final 3rd, he makes runs and Ozil drops a bit deeper to dictate.

  26. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Another Mustafi brain fart!

  27. YW says:

    > I think Mustafi’s a good defender but has a small chip missing.

    Yes, the defending chip.

  28. Noon Gunner says:


    LOl! Harsh but funny!
    I dont like the way this game is descending into niggles. Rennes are quite capable of getting us a red. Let it be decided on goals alone, please.

  29. consolsbob says:

    Arsenal playing into their hands here. Go back to playing football rather than playground scrapping.

    Could end in tears.

  30. Welsh corgi cardigans says:

    We’re playing very deep and not sure if like the look of this.

  31. Noon Gunner says:

    Good – some much needed fresh legs. Iwobi and Mkhi.

  32. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Ainsley Fu#king Maitland Niles! The lads grown up! Don’t agree with substitution. Ozil was playing well. Lava for Iwobi is a fair swap

  33. Noon Gunner says:

    Gold star for Unai Emery – that was such an attacking substitution.

  34. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Iwobi couldn’t hit a barn door with his Nigerian c0ck. Come on Black Panther! One more goal and we won’t have to have the compulsory squeaky bum time!

  35. C says:

    Should we all thank Lacazette for allowing Aubameyang to take the penalty and regain his confidence!?!

    3-0 and fucking get in there! Massive response by the boys.

  36. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Will miss Rambo. He’s played well tonight

  37. Noon Gunner says:


    He’s a trooper who Arsene managed to confuse and neutralise in the last couple of seasons in the main.

    What will coach do about Auba getting a banged-on yellow for his masked celebration? Seems utterly stupid. And look at his two misses now Not clever.

  38. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Maybe the easy ones are the most difficult to score! Fu#k sake Aubameyang

  39. Welsh corgi cardigans says:

    Oh, darn, what a miss, dear lord and that’s our marksman. Man, he’s capable of the sublime as well as being a complete clobber.

  40. consolsbob says:

    I think our masked man just needs to grow up and actually become a man. No mask required.

  41. Welsh corgi cardigans says:

    Iwobi has got to start playing defense. He can let his man run by him.

  42. Dukey says:

    I liked the mask. Should have gone full blown and put the cape on as well, maybe next time.

  43. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Professional performance. Solid defensively and a clean sheet.

    How Auba hasn’t got a hattrick i’ll never know.

    22 for the season and into the quarters

  44. SV says:

    Should have waited with the mask and stayed professional and celebrate after the final wistle.

    We need some luck with the draw. Anyone but Chelsea.

  45. nicky says:

    The biggest change about the Arsenal of late, imo, starting with the Man Utd game and repeating this evening, is that the whole team is playing a much more physical game. And it’s nice to see. 😉

  46. Wailesy says:

    What a great win tonight lads. I thought we were going out for sure. I’ll throw this one out there. By April 29th we will of wrapped up 3rd in the league. Stick that it ya pipe and smoke it pundits.

  47. ferkov says:


    Spuds v Scum, and POOOOOOOOL, v Citeeeeh. Cum on UEFA , u know it makes sense.

  48. Wailesy says:


    I’d give my right arm for 4th but we can all dream huh? I’m the happiest man in Happyville.

  49. Wailesy says:

    Just watched the CL draw. Spurs v city and Man U v Barca. I love it.

  50. Wailesy says:

    I think it can only help our cause. I’m happy to see Liverpool win the CL but not the other 3. Especially not Spurs or City. It still hurts that Chelsea bloody won it.

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