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Arsenal v Rennes

Europa League: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang must step up in absence of Alexandre Lacazette

06:17 EAT 12/03/2019
Alexandre Lacazette Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal 2018-19
The Gabonese striker and German defender need to deliver if Arsenal want to overturn the tie against Rennes in the second leg of Europa League...

Arsenal have a mountain to climb on Thursday night when they take on Ligue 1 side Rennes in the second leg of the Europa League round of 16 clash. 

The big guns of the English Premier League were humbled by the French minnows 3-1 last week in France. The Gunners will now have to pull off a great performance in order to overturn the result and qualify for the quarterfinals. 

In this crucial encounter against the Ligue 1 club, Unai Emery will miss the services of two of the most important members of the Gunners' squad, defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos and striker Alexandre Lacazette. 

While the French forward will be serving the final of his three-match suspension which elbowing Aleksandar Filipovic against Bate Borisov in the first leg of the round of 32 clash. While Lacazette's absence in the first leg against Rennes clearly affected the team's performance, Papastathopoulos' red card further piled on their misery. 

Both the players have been exceptional in their individual positions for Emery's side this season and their absence would surely haunt the side. 

Lacazette has scored 12 goals in 29 Premier League appearances this term and scored once in four Europa League matches. While his goal count has been less compared to striker partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has netted 17 times in the league, Lacazette has been more involved in the build up play and his movement has been hard for defenders to track.

But now that the Frenchman will miss the tie on Thursday ,Aubameyang must step up and deliver for the team. The Gabonese striker became the most expensive signing in the history of Arsenal last season but unfortunately, huge criticism has been directed his poor performances in crunch matches. Time has come for the striker to prove his critics wrong and deliver.

Another former Dortmund player Sokratis Papastathopoulos' absence will also be felt by the Gunners. Unai Emery has fielded the Greek defender quite often this season and he has been solid in their backline. His physical presence at the heart of the defence will be something the English side will miss in the crucial Europa League tie. 

In the Greek defenders' absence, the onus is on Shkodran Mustafi to partner Laurent Koscielny in defence and make sure they do not leak any more goals at home.

For Arsenal to progress, Aubameyang has to lead the front lines and make sure he delivers a stellar performance and help his team turn around the tie. 

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