Arsenal have some serious graft ahead if they have any designs of making into the Europa League quarter-finals after falling to a 3-1 defeat in the first leg of their last-16 tie against Stade Rennais.
The Gunners actually went ahead with three minutes played when Alex Iwobi steered one in across the goalkeeper (rather fortuitously, we suspect) after misdirecting a low cross.
However, that’s where Arsenal’s luck ran out. In fact, it wasn’t long before Unai Emery’s side were reduced to ten men when Sokratis picked up a second yellow card in the 41st minute.
Rennes then pulled one back before half-time when Benjamin Bourigeaud reacted to having his freekick blocked by sending a retaliatory strike thundering past Petr Cech at warp speed.
According to those in the know, Bourigeaud may well have caught the eye of several moneyed suitors around Europe with his performances this season. Indeed, the dainty 25-year-old midfielder looked a cut above the majority of his teammates on the night.
The Ligue 1 side then nudged their noses in front in the 62nd minute, when Nacho Monreal accidentally diverted a cross into his own goal.
Ismaila Sarr then compounded Arsenal’s misery in the 88th minute by notching Rennes’ third goal of the night with a diving header.
And lo it ended 3-1 on a lacklustre night for the Gunners, who now need to score at least two goals at the Emirates when the two teams reconvene in seven days’ time.
At the very least, they played incredibly meekly and still managed to escape Roazhon Park with an away goal.
That’s something. Not much, but at least it’s something.