MX23RW : Friday, October 18 14:44:25| >> :600:19525176:19525176:
Mar 7, 2019 at 5.55pm UK at ​Route de Lorient
Attendance: 29,771
Rennes
3-1
Arsenal
Bourigeaud (42'), Monreal (65' og.), Sarr (88')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Iwobi (4')
Sokratis (41')

Rennes boss Stephan backs Ben Arfa to make his mark against Arsenal

Rennes boss Stephan backs Ben Arfa to make his mark against Arsenal
© Reuters
The teams will meet in the last 16 of the Europa League.

Rennes coach Julien Stephan has backed Hatem Ben Arfa to shine in Thursday's Europa League clash with Arsenal as he comes up against his former boss Unai Emery.

Ben Arfa endured a tough time under the Spaniard when the pair worked together at Paris Saint Germain and did not feature in a single competitive game for the Ligue 1 side last season.

The 31-year-old left PSG at the end of his contract and moved to Rennes, where he has starred as part of a team which has gone further in the Europa League than any in the club's history.

But Stephan is keen to keep focus on on-field matters when the Gunners visit Roazhon Park for the first leg of their round of 16 tie.

"It is a thing of the past," Stephan said of the history between Ben Arfa and Emery at his pre-match press conference.

"Hatem has a lot of experience, he'll be able to handle it in a very smart way. 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 Stade Rennais 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 tomorrow."

Former Newcastle and Hull winger Ben Arfa will be one of the main attractions on Thursday as the 29,778 stadium in west Rennes will be packed to the rafters.

Stephan admits it is a highlight for a club whose last major honour was lifting the Ligue 2 title in 1983 and who reached this stage by beating Real Betis 6-4 on aggregate in the previous round.

"It is a special match," he added. "A special match because it's an eighth-finals of the Europa League against a prestigious club, which has a history and experience at the highest level.

"For the club and the followers of Stade Rennais, this is a special moment and a historic moment."

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A concerned Unai Emery watches Arsenal struggle against BATE Borisov in the Europa League on February 14, 2019.
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1Liverpool88002061424
2Manchester CityMan City85122791816
3Arsenal84311311215
4Leicester CityLeicester8422147714
5Chelsea84221814414
6Crystal Palace842288014
7Burnley8332119212
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham83321111012
9Tottenham HotspurSpurs83231412211
10Bournemouth83231313011
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves82421111010
12Manchester UnitedMan Utd82339819
13Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd82337709
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8233810-29
15Aston Villa8224131218
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle8224513-88
17Southampton8215815-77
18Everton8215613-77
19Norwich CityNorwich82061021-116
20Watford8035420-163

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