MX23RW : Thursday, March 21 00:18:26
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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Take a look at Arsenal's preparations ahead of Rennes clash
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914

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