Arsenal’s French forward Alexandre Lacazette is set to miss both legs of the Europa round of 16 clash against Stade Rennes after the federation increased his ban by two more matches. Lacazette was sent off in the first leg against BATE Borisov after the Frenchman elbowed BATE defender Aleksandar Filipovic in their shocking 1-0 defeat away from home. However, the Gunners turned it around at the Emirates and ended the round of 32 tie with a 3-1 aggregate progressing forward.

The former Lyon striker was supposed to return next month for their fixtures against Stade Rennes in the round of 16 but the increase in the ban from UEFA handed a major setback for Unai Emery’s men. Lacazette is a senior player in his side and a vital cog in the final third. The Spanish tactician now will have to trust Pierre Emerick Aubameyang to do the job for him up front.

Lacazette’s actions were scrutinized by the UEFA controls, ethics and disciplinary and they decided to increase the ban to three games in total given the intensity of the action which led to his dismissal.

Arsenal will be without their French forward in both the legs. With the first leg in Roazhon Park on March 7 and the reverse fixture at the Emirates in London seven days later on March 14.

Unai Emery started his journey with the Gunners in a terrific fashion and remained unbeaten for a lot of matches in the early half of the season in all competitions. However, the intensity has fizzled out among his players and injury and fatigue has also taken their fair share of the toll on the Gunners. Currently, at the fifth position, Emery’s men would love to finish the season on a high and a top-four spot in the league is a must for now. They have resurgent Manchester United ahead of them with only a single point difference between the two sides.

The Spaniard will also want to bag a silverware for his new club and that trophy can be the UEFA Europa League. Unai Emery has a long history with this tournament and most of them are fond memories for the Spaniard and he will hope that he can do the same with Arsenal this season. But up ahead they have Julian Stephen’s unpredictable Stade Rennes side and with Lacazette missing in both legs it will be a tricky task for the rest of the team.

The Red and Blacks as they are known, Rennes are currently in 11th position in the French League but have performed pretty well in the Europa League this season. They brushed aside a highly talented Real Betis side with an aggregate score of 6-4. Julian Stephen’s men were held at home in the first leg and Real Betis had the upper hand with the 3-3 scoreline and three away goals.

However, the Red and Blacks won the away fixture 1-3 with Bensebaini, Niang and Hunou all getting on the score-sheet. The Gunners will have a tough time restricting a fast-paced attacking side with their shaky defence. However, they will need to outscore them in both legs and hence they will miss someone of Lacazette’s calibre.