Bet of the Day: Arsenal and Rennes to draw in Europa League

14th September 2021

If at the start of the season you’d offered most Arsenal fans the chance to be still in the mix for a Champions League spot, and making progress in the Europa League, at this point in the season, they probably would have taken that. Now, perhaps they would have revised those expectations upwards when the Gunners went on a 22-match unbeaten run and looked to some like potential outside title contenders. As they arrive in Brittany to take on Rennes, however, the jury is still out on whether Unai Emery’s first season in the Emirates Stadium hot-seat has been a success.

On the face of it, this is a tie that Arsenal will be expected to win. Although capable, Rennes are not among the elite of Ligue 1 (and with Manchester United exposing the limitations of that elite, unflattering comparisons will be drawn if Emery can’t steer his side past les Rouge et Noir). There are, however, complicating factors for the English side which make this game less of a foregone conclusion than some supporters would like to hope. As we analyse the best bets in this match, we’ll underline why Arsenal may have reason to be cheerful even if they don’t win this evening’s clash.

Signs Point To Honours Even

Let’s get one thing out of the way right away. In ordinary circumstances, a full-strength Arsenal team would deservedly be strong favourites to win against a full-strength Rennes side. However, there are reasons to pause before backing the Premier League club, principally relating to when the match is taking place. On Saturday, Arsenal played out a fiercely-contested 1-1 draw with main rivals Tottenham, and this Sunday they’ll host Manchester United in a game with huge implications for Champions League qualification.

Rennes, meanwhile, had last weekend’s scheduled fixture with Nimes re-arranged to give them time to prepare for this match, and at the weekend are at home to Caen – whose fans have been banned from attending. The Breton side, then, have a relatively clear head and, sitting tenth in Ligue 1, are focused on this match and only this match. Add to this the fact that the Gunners will be without striker Alex Lacazette, suspended for this and the second leg, and Dafabet’s odds of 11/5 on this match to be a draw look quite tempting. We’d go as far as to call it our Bet of the Day, given the situation in which the game is being played.

Attack May Be The Best Form Of Defence

No matter the angle from which you look at this match, it’s unlikely to end 0-0. For Rennes to progress to the quarter-finals, they realistically need to win their home leg – and they might as well give it a go, because their domestic season seems certain to end with them in mid-table. At the same time, it would be unwise for Arsenal just to adopt a containment approach. Large question marks hang over their defence, mostly around the form of centre-back Shkodran Mustafi. Further forward, they have the skills of Denis Suarez, Aaron Ramsey and lethal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to call upon, so an attacking attitude would suit them best.

At Betfair, you can get odds of ¾ on Both Teams To Score on the night. Given that Rennes progressed to this stage by scoring three goals in each leg as they overcame Real Betis 6-4 on aggregate – and their side contains dangerous attackers like MBaye Niang, Ismaila Sarr and Hatem Ben Arfa – those seem like odds worth taking a closer look at.

Aubameyang To Shine On The Night

Arsenal’s reputation for transfer-market penny-pinching took a few solid blows last season when they signed strikers Lacazette and Aubameyang for a combined total north of £100million. Both forwards have repaid the club’s faith with a total of sixty goals between them. While there has been something of a struggle involved in getting both players in the side and fielding a functional side that can defend at all, that’s not a problem for this evening given Lacazette’s unavailability. Without a doubt, Aubameyang is a threat in any game, and his odds of 7/2 with Paddy Power to get the game’s first goal look tempting.

The Gabonese striker will be on the lookout for an opportunity to banish the still-fresh memories of his last-minute penalty in the North London derby at the weekend when, with the chance to secure a 2-1 victory, his spot-kick was saved by Hugo Lloris. There is little question over his status as one of the elite strikers in Europe – a prolific record with first Dortmund and now his current side is testament to that – and given that a fully-rested Lacazette may be favoured to start at the weekend, Aubameyang is likely to be full of running this evening

Bets of the Day

Both Teams To Score (¾, Betfair); Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score first (7/2, Paddy Power); Game to end in a draw (11/5, Dafabet)

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