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Rennes v Arsenal

Hatem Ben Arfa can haunt Unai Emery in Europa League clash

04:37 GMT+3 06/03/2019
Hatem Ben Arfa Rennes 2018
The former Paris Saint-Germain has a chance to get one back against the coach who stole his playing time ...

As Arsenal prepare to take on Rennes, Unai Emery should be wary of a devil that he isolated during his time at Paris Saint-Germain – Hatem Ben Arfa.

The Frenchman had promising stints at Newcastle United and NICE, drawing comparisons to Lionel Messi due to his style of play. He was even linked to the Argentine’s club before he was signed by PSG.

The expectations were high as he had set the l;eague alight before his move to PSG and had established himself as a top-tier player.

Unai Emery was also signed by the French giants at around the same time as they decided to step up their ambitions and challenge for Europe.

To say that the pair failed to click would be an understatement.

Given PSG's attacking riches, Emery struggled to give Ben Arfa regular playing time. Obviously, this did not go well with him and he ensured that his disappointment was communicated through indiscipline during and beyond training sessions.

But the player did have the support of the dressing room and his talent never failed to attract appreciation from his teammates. Dani Alves named him “The Phenomenon” for his incredible dribbling skills and control of the ball.

However, the feud between Emery and Ben Arfa escalated and the 31-year-old went one complete year without playing a single game.

That was the last straw for Ben Arfa who joined Rennes in an attempt to revive his career.

After playing a key role in Rennes’ European campaign, the Frenchman now has a chance to exact revenge on Unai Emery. He played a crucial role in helping Rennes get past Real Betis in the last-32 of the Europa League. Alongside M’baye Niang, Ben Arfa was perhaps their best player over two legs.

A goal in the first leg and an assist in the second, Ben Arfa ensured that his team skipped past the Betis hurdle to set up a date with Emery’s Arsenal.

The Gunners have a good record against French teams in Europe and have never lost to them. A Ben Arfa-led Rennes can change this and the player will be motivated to help them do so.

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