One would expect the Rennes coach to set up his team to defend their 3-1 first leg lead. But their strength is in their attack: pacey wingers plus the mercurial Ben Arter whose play demands so much attention. Their coach might weight it all up and decide that the best way to defend their lead is by attacking. What he does however would be non of his counterpart’s business. Emery has only one option. To go out and fetch goals..
Emery would be thinking of at least 3 goals. Yes 2 goals would do it if we don’t concede but that would be heart in the mouth. In spite of his clear mission Emery has to get his balance right, a balance that must be tilted offensively. Easier said than done as he still has to balance between goal scorers and goal creators. They need each other. Ramsey and Mkhitaryan look as likely starters. They are creators that carry some goal threat and at the same time able to work a shift defensively.
Emery would like to use the speed of Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac to pose a challenge to the speed Rennes have on the flanks and this might necessitate a back three of Mustafi, Koscielny and Monreal (Sokratis suspended).
The Arsenal man would be very tempted to play Leno. But would he? Lacazette whose ban was reduced to two matches is available for today’s game. Is it him or Auba or both of them? And what about Ozil with Emery so much keen on lots of chances being created? Balance, balance, balance …… damn it. Emery has only 11 places to fit in players.
Predicted line up:
—–Mustafi. Koscielny. Monreal—-
M-Niles. Ramsey. Xhaka. Kolasinac.
Bench: Leno, Lichsteiner, Torreira, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Suarez, Lacazette.
Emery knows the worth of smuggling the 12th man into the team. Let’s do it for him.