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Rennes 3-1 Arsenal - Gunners Self-Destruct Away From Home

Another red card in subsequent games has cost us dearly, as our Europa League chances hang by a thread after a 3-1 loss at Stade Rennais.A first half Sokratis sending off changed the entire complexion of the game, as after the Greek defender got his marching orders, Rennes took complete control of proceedings.So much so, that we were lucky to escape from France with a two goal deficit.It started so well for the Gunners. An attacking lineup was named, with Iwobi, Mkhitaryan and Ozil named behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a front quartet. Shkodran Mustafi took the right back slot again after a decent showing against spurs in the weekend, a display only marred by the German giving away a penalty that saved our neighbours skins.Our midfield was the powerful Xhaka and Torreira, a partnership flowering this season, and it enabled us to get off on the right foot from the off.Four minutes in, Alex Iwobi received the ball wide left, cut in and unleashed a curler that could have been misconstrued for a cross. Either way, it found itself around the full stretch of the keeper and nestled into the far corner.The dream start, but that would be it in terms of high points.We were so close to putting this tie to bed only eight minutes later, Iwobi heavily involved again. this time setting up Torreira for a powerful strike that the Rennes keeper could only parry away.We were in control, our defence were not imploding, this tie was ours for the taking. On the 30th minute Mustafi had our next opportunity, but after some neat play by Ozil and Monreal, the German could only fire wide.Five minutes later, Sokratis picked up a yellow that gave Ben Arfa his first chance of the game, which Cech was equal to.Six minutes after the above, Sokratis was off for a second yellow after he dragged down the lively Ismael Sarr.We had fifty minutes to survive with ten men, but we could only hold out two minutes before succumbing to an equaliser - although there was no fault of ours involved. After a free kick rebounded into the wall, Bourigeaud lashed home a first time finish that Cech had no chance with.That was it for the first half, and after really bossing the first half, we were down to ten men and having conceded a late equaliser.The momentum was with Rennes, and the second half was a one-sided affair indeed. Wave after wave of attack crashed upon us, and with our defensive deficiencies, it was only a matter of time until one of their moves breached us.Emery didn’t wait long to make evasive manoeuvres, and took off perhaps our most attacking threat in Iwobi, bringing on Guendouzi to combat the deep runs from midfield that were backing up Sarr and Ben Arfa.In the first twenty minutes, Rennes had four or five separate occasions that caused us real concern, but we managed to escape conceding through a combination of wasteful finishing, last-gasp defending and saves from Cech kept the score on an even keel.There was only so much we could do though, such was the onslaught, and Rennes got the advantage they deserved in the 65th minute - Monreal attempting to avert a cross from danger but only succeeding in deflecting with his hip, the ball looping over a stricken Cech and into the net.We now had twenty five minutes to keep the score down. Another goal would be disastrous for our chances.Rennes knew they had to press home their advantage, and they went at us with everything they had, buoyed by a vociferous home crowd.We were hanging on, the two goals we conceded we could have done little about, but it wouldn’t be Arsenal without a little touch of self-destruction.And so it was to be this time around, with a third goal that we could have easily cut out. The third goal that makes our tie so much more difficult.Substitutes hadn’t changed the course of the game, and on the 88th minute it was one of Rennes’ own replacements that sent over a cross that our men failed to deal with, leaving danger man Sarr to head past Cech.It leaves us in a rough position for next weeks second leg. We are infinitely better at home than we are away, and a 2-0 win doesn’t seem a task we can’t achieve - but can we shut them out over 90 minutes?Whatever happens, we go into next week with a mission that is far more difficult than it should have been.Standard Arsenal then.