The Gunners are out of the equation in all domestic races at home in England now, meaning their only chance of success rests on their continental adventures.
It is a competition their manager knows well, having lifted the trophy in three consecutive seasons with Sevilla.
Their opponents will be no pushovers, however, despite their wavering Ligue 1 form and will be looking to turn to winger Hatem Ben Arfa for inspiration, who reunites with his former Paris Saint-Germain boss for the first time since he was frozen out at the Parc des Princes.
|Game||Rennes vs Arsenal|
|Date||Thursday, March 7|
|Time||5:55pm GMT / 12:55pm ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game will be broadcast on Univision Deportes En Vivo and can be streamed via the B/R Live service.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|Univision Deportes En Vivo||B/R Live|
In the UK, the game will be broadcast on BT Sport 3 and will be available for streaming on the BT Sport Live app.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 3||BT Sport Live|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Koubek, Badiashile, Gertmonas|
|Defenders||Gelin, Da Silva, Mexer, Nyamsi, Bensebani, Doumbia, Diallo, Zeffane|
|Midfielders||Bourigeaud, Grenier, Johansson, Janvier, Lauriente, Ben Arfa, Hunou, Andre|
|Forwards||Sarr, Del Castillo|
Julien Stephan may be without Ludovic Baal, Abdoulaye Diallo, James Lea Siliki and Jordan Siebatcheu, who are all doubts due to various niggles.
Rafik Guitane and Romain Danze are long-term absentees while M'Baye Niang and Hamari Traore are out through suspension.
Confirmed Rennes starting XI: Koubek; Zeffane, Da Silva, Mexer, Bensebani; Bourigeaud, Grenier, Andre, Sarr; Ben Arfa, Hunou
|Goalkeepers||Cech, Leno, Martinez|
|Defenders||Koscielny, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson, Kolasinac, Medley, Pleguezuelo, Mustafi|
|Midfielders||Elneny, Ramsey, Torreira, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Willock|
|Forwards||Ozil, Iwobi, Saka, Aubameyang, Nketiah, Suarez, Mkhitaryan|
Unai Emery hopes to have Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sead Kolasinac back though he will have to make do without Alexandre Lacazette.
The forward is currently serving a suspension while Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin remain sidelined.
Confirmed Arsenal starting XI: Cech; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi; Aubameyang.
Betting & Match Odds
Arsenal are evens favourites to secure an advantage from the first leg, with odds of 1/1 at bet365 . Rennes are meanwhile priced at 3/1 while a draw is available at 13/5.
With their Premier League and FA Cup dreams in tatters, it’s not quite been the perfect start promised by Unai Emery’s unbeaten streak across the first half of the season at Arsenal.
Now, however, the Spaniard takes the Gunners back into European action, and into a competition he is well acquainted with success in; the Europa League.
A three-time winner across three consecutive season while in charge of Sevilla, the ex-Paris Saint-Germain coach knows how to deliver results in this tournament.
He will be looking to deliver his first piece of silverware at the Emirates Stadium come May if he can too, with a trip to old Ligue 1 rival Rennes the next step on the road to Baku.
The game will hand him a reunion with a former player too, the France international Hatem Ben Arfa, whom Emery coached – and subsequently froze out of the squad – while at PSG.
The potential of a frosty encounter between the two has dominated media coverage in the run up, along with the question of how Arsenal may cope without the suspended Alexandre Lacazette.
Both Rennes coach Julien Stephan and Emery were questioned on Ben Arfa earlier this week, with the former stating that he expected the 32-year-old to deal with the occasion well.
"Hatem has a lot of experience, he'll be able to handle it in a very smart way," the 38-year-old told reporters.
"We did not need to talk about it together and there are plenty of other topics to talk about before talking about that. It is Rennes against Arsenal in the Europa League, it is not Hatem against Emery.
"Champions are always present in this type of match and I'm sure Hatem will have a big game."
Emery was naturally more coy and gave a relatively neutral assessment of the attacking midfielder’s talent.
"He is a very good player. He is playing with a big performance," the Spaniard told reporters.
"We know they have good organisation, good players. One is Ben Arfa, we need to control his quality and skills.”