A similar line-up to the team which beat Man U was chosen to engineer our fightback. The only changes being Cech in goal and Mustafi for the ineligible Papa.
What a magnificent start to the first half – Ainsley finding Aaron Ramsey in the perfect position in the area to swivel and feed Auba for a goal poacher’s tap in. These are easy and straightforward if you have the instinct to be there in the first place.
Things went from peachy to orgasmic with the second goal after a quarter of an hour. Wardrobe knew he was offside from the dinked ball through, leaving Auba to stand up a tempting cross Brady-style to the far post and who should be there to nod it into the net – only our Conservative candidate for Lower Holloway. Ainsley was ecstatic and from that moment on you could see him visibly grow in confidence.
Rennes struggled to put many passes together and their game was again characterised by play-acting and blatant attempts to con the ref into issuing cards. Well, it had worked once in France.
Rambo had another fine chance from Laca laying the ball back but could only find the keeper when under pressure to get a shot off quickly.
After 4 minutes stoppages at the end of the half we found ourselves up on aggregate via away goals. No chance it could stay at 2-0, surely?
The second period started with a near calamity with Mustafi getting caught wrong side. the ball hit the post and we could breathe again. Shkodran was generally pretty solid though tonight, so we can excuse him this one because it didn’t lead to us conceding and he did get back up on his feet and block the follow up shot from the rebound.
Rennes had a series of corners and a few vague sniffs at goal that tended to be snuffed out by the gloriously erect flag of the lino at the North Bank end. Why BT saw fit to keep showing play which was after the ball was dead, is anyone’s guess. Same reason they would employ Stuart Robson as co-commentator, no doubt – to wind us up, as there can’t be any other reason. His monotone banality is enough to drive any self-respecting fan into thinking any game is full of tedium.
Emery’s substitutions on 70 minutes were absolutely inspired. Mesut had been fairly lacklustre by his own very high standards and he was replaced by Micki. Laca had run his socks off and was on a yellow so, Iwobi made sense, too.
There was an immediate transformation. We suddenly had the ball and kept it purposefully in midfield. the passing interchange was swift and decisive resulting in a beautifully constructed goal of glorious simplicity. Wardrobe’s driven cross to Auba was like an express takeaway brought by Deliveroo. Superb, three goals to nil and a mask celebration to add a further minute to injury time.
We dominated the next 10 minutes and should have had a 4th and 5th with Auba missing a one on one and then fluffing his lines when he had the goal at his mercy with his left foot from Rambo’s wonderful pass.
Lucas Torreira came on for Rambo who was, once again, quite sublime. His tackling, positional sense and ability on the ball were just exceptional. Five extra minutes were seen out without too many scares and a well-deserved passage to the quarters secured.
Three goals and none conceded. There were virtually no Arsenal fans predicting a clean sheet.
The Rennes players’ attempts to recreate the Papa situation were pathetic in the extreme. I suppose their only chance of winning was to play against 10 men again. Luckily we didn’t have to endure too many close ups of the hideous Ben Arfa as he was barely in the game – so much for laughing at Unai Emery mate, he done you up like a kipper. Hahahaha.
Loved the substitutions. they really secured the victory.
Ratings (perhaps slightly high but, heck, the fightback was glorious)
Cech – clean sheet – took a kick in the head – didn’t have too many clear cut saves to make as Rennes were offside so often …. 7
Maitland-Niles – his first half was superb and a goal to boot – great to see him grabbing his chance with both hands …. 8
Mustafi – the much-maligned Shkodran played well tonight apart from the one slip – well done that man …. 8
Koscielny – rock, shield, bulwark, buttress, captain …. 8
Monreal – excellent throughout – Sarr barely got a look in ….. 8
Kolasinac – our Bosnian battering ram excelled again – assists, last ditch blocks, the whole shooting match …. 8
Xhaka – the odd misplaced pass amongst hundreds – he really does ooze class regardless of what the nay-sayers think – was he a single fulcrum or was a certain Welshman providing able backup in the double pivot? …. 9
Ramsey – another top top performance from Rambo with one assist (and could have had another if Auba hadn’t failed his Football proficiency test with his left foot) – again gets my MOTM with his tireless, selfless running, challenging and top quality with the ball at his feet …. 9
Ozil – not his most effective Arsenal game – seemed to lose possession easily without too much care on occasion …. 7
Aubameyang – 2 goals, 2 misses, 1 Bradyesque assist – an elite goalscorer’s lot, I suppose – will get most of the papers’ MOTM as goalscorer’s usually do …. 8
Lacazette – the man has grand couilles – unlucky to be booked for a great challenge – didn’t have too much joy in front of goal but worked like a Trojan …. 8
Iwobi – added ball retention and availability for a pass which had been lacking further forward … 8
Mkhitaryan – his quality on the ball was immediately apparent – helped to get us over the line …. 8
Torreira …. not on for long but chased and harried …. 7
Emery – Manager of the Match, of that there is no doubt – restored his reputation from last week with a great team set-up and tactics – the subs on 70 minutes were bang on and sealed a fine win …. 9
Le Wagner – should go back to Huddersfield, but would be laughed out of Yorkshire if he asked his players to feign injury at every opportunity ….3
The UEFA Europa League draw begins at 12 noon on Friday 15th March. The draw will be for the Quarter/Final and Semi/Final.
p.s. please give your own match thoughts and ratings in the comments below
Fine read Chas.
“Le Wagner” 😀 😀
What an effort from the Head Honcho at arsenalarsenal, and “The Boys” themselves.
Can’t add much, although feel obliged to reduce the negativity I feel around Xhaka. Perhaps he has the capability to let his skills shine through and quash the childish errors and petulance, and become a legend.
Monchi ( not with us yet, of course) keen on left back Grimaldo from Benfica to replace Nacho, and first efforts to bring Sarr to THOF in the Summer. Yes to the second, might yet see the first in next round.
Excellent report Chas, thank you very much
You managed to get in all the important elements while wisely omitting the simply ghastly
By that I mean, that like you, there was no way on earth I would have mentioned the Auba mask incident
What a difference a week makes
I think we all know how we’d be feeling had we witnessed losses to Utd and Rennes. In short, season over. Now we look forward to a mini break with hope and excitement about the possibilities for the remainder of the season
The draw. Select your preferred opposition
Not Fulham, pleeeease
Slavia Praha (CZE)
Lisbon or Naples for me
Villareal or Benfica for me. I think Frankfurt are the dangerous dark horses, given the way they smashed their league.
Valencia or Lisbon for me
Prague, Frankfurt, Chavs – No.
I d like Arsenal to play Frankfurt because I d like to see if the hype around some Frankfurt players is actually justified: Haller and Jovic.
Also the trop from Brussels to Frankfurt could be managed somehow…Dull city I must say though.
My second option would be Valencia and my third Villareal (for Santi)
Cech – 7
AMN – 7
Mustafi – 6
Kos – 7
Monreal – 6
Kola – 7
Xhaka – 7
Ramsey – 8
Ozil – 6
Auba – 8
Laca – 7
Mikhy – 7
Iwobi – 6
LT – no ratings
So far this season, did our best performance came with a 3-4-1-2 (Tottenham, Rennes, Utd) set up or a 4-4-2 set-tup (Chelsea)?
It is really hard to say…But for sure, our Wing-Backs have been more decisive and involved in a 3-4-1-2 set-up whether it was Bellerin, AMN, Kola and even Monreal. Will Emery build on their strengths and hence buy:
– a Top CB to replace Mustafi or Monreal in the back-three
– a Good WB that can play left or right (Gaya, Meunier…)
– a Top DM/CM that can break plays nad move the ball up (Ndombele…)
– a FW that can play wide and behind strikers…
Leno – RECRUIT, Kos, Sok – Bellerin, RECRUIT, LT, Kola – RECRUIT, Laca, Auba
Are your opposition choices based on desirable destinations or some silly footballing reasons?
I don’t want to go to Frankfurt or Prague, but I’m surprised you haven’t included Naples
great stuff, Chas. 🙂
le wagner! ha ha ha.
where is grade inflation. I think they are perfect. 🙂
Iwobi. very bad. that is disgraceful. back to school, young man. respect.
thank you, Chas. perfect. 🙂
comment lost again.
and comment back.
now you see me
now you don’t
oooops, you do both times
come on Arnie, you’re a clever chap, beard and all
Micky. Naples would be great
According to AFC DOT COM, ties are April 11 and 18
I go check diary
Excellent match report and clearly written with love, I can tell the difference.
It’s quite sad that those front bottoms in the ground have finally stopped moaning about Ramsey just before he is about to leave.
I have one behind me who is now absolutely silent on the subject, I really want to turn around and shout at him — do you get it now, do you finally get it?
I’m one of those front bottoms 🙂
Reason being, Arsene was incapable of getting the est out of Ramsey from a positional point of view, and Unai has only just done it by pairing him with Granit while somehow getting him to show positional discipline
For so long it was a Mesut/Ramsey either or
Ajax vs Juventus (QF1)
Liverpool vs Porto (QF2)
Tottenham vs Man City (QF3)
Barcelona vs Man United (QF4)
QF3 winner vs QF1 winner (SF1)
QF4 winner vs QF2 winner (SF2)
SF1 winner (in home colours) vs SF2 winner (in away colours)
EL draw coming in 30 minutes.
I am a front bottom too! The question is has Dick drawn out of Aaron a positional discipline to add to the “important, but rare” goals, or has Aaron had an awakening to coincide with the reduced pressure of knowing he is leaving, and the ” rejection” by Dick of the essentialness of Mesut.
ha ha Micky.
Can I revise my opinion of myself 🙂
On reflection, I don’t think I am the same level FB as the one behind you. Reason? He’s clearly voiced his opinion out loud, otherwise you wouldn’t know, whereas in all my years at Highbury (and an ickle bit at The Ems) I’ve never voiced an out loud negative about any Gunner
What’s all this “No, I’m Spartacus” 🙂
Spuds City ROLF LAMOW
sevilla, inter, zenit all out, very upbeat.
the chav wagner says he wants to avoid Arsenal, prefers Napoli. ha ha.
Napoli v Arsenal………………
(QF1) Napoli vs Arsenal !!
(QF2) Villarreal vs Valencia
(QF3) Benfica vs Frankfurt
(QF4) Slavia Praha vs Chelsea
another challenge. no complaints. coyg
I go find tickets and flights 🙂
They’ll have to switch it… Arsenal will play at home first, on 11 April.
Slavia Prague v Chelsea
Benfica v Eintracht Frankfurt
Villarreal v Valencia
Napoli v Arsenal
QF1 winners vs QF2 winners (SF1)
QF3 winners vs QF4 winners (SF2)
We will have tough opponents in the QF (Napoli) & SF (Villarreal/Valencia).
SF2 winners (in home colours) vs SF1 winners (in away colours)
The final is at Baku stadium in Azerbaijan (where we played Qarabag in the group stage), which means Mkhitaryan will miss it should our team (hopefully) reach it.
Does that mean we’re in Pistaccio or Navy for the final? 🙂
It is more likely the pistaccio as our finals opponents are from: Chelsea (in their blue kit), Frankfurt (in their black/dark kit), Benfica and Slavia Prague (their home kits are red & white).
The pistaccio 3rd kit is worn more for the Europa league away matches (if the colours does not clash with the home team’s kit, otherwise it is the reverse of us wearing red & white).
worse draw ever…Chelsea off the hook again
You should come to lower tied LB no moaning at tall there
Wenger didn’t get the best out of ramsey but he had his best season under Wenger hmm
That’s a terrible argument, Fred 🙂
Anyone but the chavs would have done for me.
Brevity Fred, spot on! 🙂
Great match report, Chas. What a week it’s been for Arsenal and so good to know that April and May will be meaningful football months for us. It will be a long break for us but I can take it now. 🙂
I agree, very good draw. We can beat Napoli-
Super-Dooper Post, Chazzer! 😁
I did tell you guys that all would end well with a comfortable scoreline.
Umm – no – hold the ‘phone — just one cotton picking minute — I just need to go check something first.
—- It seems that I have been framed, because everyone on AA was very positive, and expecting the very best from the lads, and that the scoreline would be a terrific comeback.
That is —- everyone — but me —- it seems that I was somewhat negative in my prediction of the result —- but that’s why I said I had been framed — I would never have been a negative Nelly. 😂 Would I?
Frankly I loved watching the game — despite the fact we played so well, and took a two nil lead, it was still breathtaking in case Rennes managed to score an away goal — as they nearly did when only Cech’s fingernail deflected a crushing shot onto the post.
I bet Napoli are not looking forward to meeting us in the next round!! 😋
Could do with Everton beating Chavs tomorrow for some laid back rolfing, and probably best for Utd to stay in the FAC to get more tired
Travel arrangements for Naples away are a bloody nightmare. This is where living away from sensible airports like Gatwick and Heathrow is a real downer
“yes of course I want a return flight which takes twelve hours with options of via Dublin, Amsterdam or Glasgow”
I hadn’t refreshed the page from earlier. Didn’t realise anyone was about.
Naples sounds a dangerous place to go, though I’m sure you’ll cope. 🙂
Mind if I ask were u from micky
great perfomance, ozil the only weak point. ramsey motm. ramsey drop deep to holding midfielder help us a lot. iwobi fantastic