Monday 21 October 2019

Lacazette's reduced ban branded 'bizarre' by Rennes boss

Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters
Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters

Sam Dean

Rennes manager Julien Stephan, has questioned Uefa's "bizarre" decision to reduce Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette's suspension in time for tonight's Europa League tie at the Emirates.

Lacazette was originally banned for three European matches after throwing his elbow into the face of a Bate Borisov defender last month, but Uefa announced on Tuesday that his suspension had been reduced to two games after Arsenal appealed.

The successful appeal means that Lacazette can now feature in the second leg of Arsenal's last-16 tie against Rennes, who hold a 3-1 lead from last week's meeting.

It is the second Uefa decision to anger the French side, who were initially drawn to be at home in the second leg but were then told that the governing body had switched the fixtures to avoid Arsenal's match clashing with Chelsea's home game against Dynamo Kiev.

Stephan said the eligibility of Lacazette, who has scored 14 goals this season and has arguably been Arsenal's most dangerous attacker since the turn of the year, "changes many things" in his side's preparation.

"The timing is rather surprising for everyone involved," Stephan said. "The first thing that was a bit bizarre was changing the first and second leg, this is now the second thing that has happened that changes things. Hopefully, there will not be any more surprises and the referee tomorrow will be great.

"It changes a lot of things because, with Lacazette, they can play more formations, including the 3-5-2 with the two strikers, which they played against Manchester United.

"We were not aware that they had appealed the decision. The red card had been given about a month ago, so it is a bit strange it has come 48 hours before the game, but it is what it is."

Lacazette has struck up a fearsome partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and both started in central attacking positions in Sunday's impressive 2-0 victory over United. The pair arrived for a combined total of more than £100 million last season and have scored 34 goals between them this campaign.

Emery, however, would not confirm that he would once again play both from the start

Arsenal v Rennes, Live, BT Sport 2, 8.0

Telegraph.co.uk

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