Charlie Nicholas states his prediction for Rennes v Arsenal

The Arsenal legend is tipping the Gunners to secure a first-leg win against Rennes in France on Thursday

Unai Emery
Arsenal manager Unai Emery (Photo: Screengrab)

Charlie Nicholas is confident Arsenal will secure a narrow win at Rennes in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash on Thursday evening.

The Ligue 1 side are enjoying their best-ever run in a Uefa competition after a 6-4 aggregate win against La Liga side Real Betis in the previous round.

Arsenal managed to bounce back from a 1-0 loss at BATE Borisov to beat the Belarusian side 3-0 in the return fixture at The Emirates last month.

Unai Emery’s side are looking to win the Europa League this season to secure a return to the Champions League next term.

The Arsenal manager has won Europe’s second tier on three previous occasions with Sevilla.

And former Gunners midfielder Nicholas is backing Arsenal to edge to a narrow 2-1 win against Rennes in France on Thursday evening.

“I expect Arsenal to be comfortable but it’s not an easy game, there’s no easy games. Going back to BATE, Arsenal still didn’t know what they were after the first leg but they’ve come through it,” Nicholas told Sky Sports.

“Unai Emery has changed the team a bit too much for me, I’d like to see Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the team at the same time.

“But these are the type of games they’ll be good at, Rennes won’t be overly physical, they’ll try to get an advantage, and I expect Arsenal to go there and win.”

The Gunners were 5-1 winners against Italian side AC Milan in their first-ever Europa League round of 16 tie last season under Arsene Wenger.

The 1999-2000 Uefa Cup runners-up won all three of their away fixtures in this season’s group stage before losing at BATE Borisov.

Arsenal are unbeaten in eight of their 11 games in the Europa League since participating in the competition for the first time in 2017-18.

The Gunners were held to a 1-1 draw with Tottenham in the Premier League at the weekend after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a late penalty at Wembley.

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