AP Photo / David Vincent

Stade Rennes beats Arsenal in first leg (video)

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  • Iwobi scores within three minutes
  • Sokratis sent off after second yellow
  • Bourigeaud scores terrific equalizer
  • Monreal own goal puts Rennes in front

Benjamin Bourigeaud and Ismaila Sarr scored and Arsenal conceded an own goal in a soft 3-1 loss to Stade Rennes at Rhazoan Park in the first leg of the Europa League’s Round of 16 on Thursday.

Alex Iwobi scored what could be a critical away goal should Arsenal regroup for Thursday’s second leg at the Emirates Stadium.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

It started so well, with Iwobi’s mishit cross skipping off the post and into the goal following a 1-2 with Nacho Monreal in the 4th minute.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos then saw yellow for a foul on the edge of the area, a precursor to his sending off under 10 minutes later.

Hatem Ben Arfa sent Ismaila Sarr toward Sokratis, and the Greek defender took down the young Senegalese striker for his second yellow.

That’s when Rennes struck, with Bourigeaud collecting a free kick rebound off the wall and sending a beauty past Petr Cech.

Beauty may be an understatement.

Monreal turned a Mehdi Zeffane cross into his own goal to give Rennes its first lead of the afternoon.

James Lea Siliki completed the scoring with a cross that Sarr turned beyond Cech with a strong header.

Arsenal’s head of recruitment leaving club after one year

Photo credit: Arsenal.com
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Sven Mislintat was appointed 14 months ago as Arsenal’s head of recruitment, a key component to the club’s plan heading into the post-Arsene Wenger era.

[ MORE: LAFC’s Carlos Vela leaves door open for Barcelona move ]

Fast-forward the second half of last season and the first half of the current season, and the former Borussia Dortmund mastermind is set to leave the club on Feb. 8, Arsenal announced on Monday.

Mislintat arrived at Arsenal when then-chief executive Ivan Gazidis was still calling the shots. Gazidis has himself since departed the club, for AC Milan in September, which has reportedly created some difference in opinions between those left behind.

[ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo to plead guilty to tax fraud in Madrid court ]

Despite only spending roughly 14 months in the job, Mislintat will have done a great deal of work in re-shaping what was — but arguably still is — an aging squad requiring a full facelift before returning to the Gunners’ days of competing for — let alone winning — Premier League titles.

A full list of first-team players to come to Arsenal during Mislintat’s tenure reads as follows: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ($72 million), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (swap deal with Alexis Sanchez), Sokratis Papastathopoulos ($23 million), Lucas Torreira ($33 million), Bernd Leno ($24 million), Stephan Lichtsteiner (free) and Matteo Guendouzi ($9 million).

PL Sunday preview: Liverpool v. Man United at Anfield

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Premier League fixtures don’t get any bigger — or more heated — than Liverpool versus Manchester United, longtime rivals who’ll renew pleasantries at Anfield on Sunday…

[ MORE: Spurs grab stoppage-time win vs. Burnley | Man City go top again ]

Southampton v. Arsenal — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

Heading into Sunday’s meeting at St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton haven’t won in 14 games (all competitions — after 90 minutes), while Arsenal haven’t lost in just as many games, in the PL alone (unbeaten in 22 games in all competitions). Predictably, Saints find themselves stuck in the relegation zone, with the halfway point of the season looming ever so large, and a new manager hoping to make his mark and a major impact on a club quickly spiraling out of control. Ralph Hasenhuttl made his debut as Southampton manager last weekend, but suffered a 1-0 defeat to fellow relegation battlers Cardiff City.

As for Arsenal, the unbeaten run has earned new manager Unai Emery a long leash with Gunners fans, but his side enters the week in fifth place, behind Chelsea on goal differential. Sunday could see the return of defender and captain Laurent Koscielny in league play after the 33-year-old Frenchman made his first appearance in seven months during Thursday’s Europa League victory over Qarabag.

INJURIES: Southampton — QUESTIONABLE: Ryan Bertrand (back), Danny Ings (hamstring), Shane Long (ankle), Cedirc Soares (calf) | Arsenal — OUT: Sokratis Papastathopoulos (suspension), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Shkodran Mustafi (suspension), Rob Holding (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion v. Chelsea — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Chelsea’s recent form has been a rollercoaster of results, alternating losses and wins in their last four league games. They did, however, put together perhaps the best performance of any side in the PL all season last time out, handing Manchester City their first defeat in a 2-0 conquering at Stamford Bridge. Maurizio Sarri‘s side came back down to earth on Thursday, though, as the Blues struggled to secure a 2-2 draw away to Hungarian side MOL Vidi FC in the Europa League, and the club’s fans were accused of spewing anti-Semitic chants and slurs just days after the very public incident involving four Chelsea fans and Man City star Raheem Sterling.

Brighton won’t be a pushover at Falmer Stadium, where the Seagulls have compiled and impressive 4W-2D-1L record this season. Chris Hughton‘s side has managed to knock off a handful of mid-table sides at home thus far, but a scalp the size of Chelsea would be easily the most impressive outing to date. Brighton dropped both league meetings with the Blues last season, losing 4-0 at home and 2-0 away.

INJURIES: Brighton — OUT: Shane Duffy (suspension) | Chelsea — OUT: Mateo Kovacic (thigh)

Liverpool v. Manchester United — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

For all that Jurgen Klopp has achieved since taking the Liverpool job in October 2015 — and he has done a great deal of good to re-establish the club, both domestically and on the continent — the second-most notable failure of Klopp’s tenure, behind only “winning a trophy,” remains his 0W-3D-2L record against Man United in league play. While the Reds have surpassed the Red Devils and long left them behind in the PL’s hierarchy, a victory over the bitter rivals from Manchester has remained elusive, including a 0W-2D-1L record at Anfield, site of Sunday’s showdown, with a grand total of one goal scored in the three games.

The tables have clearly turned from the days of United dominating the PL and winning 13 of 21 league titles from 1992 to 2013, period in which Liverpool managed a trio of second-place finishes — coming second to United once, and besting them twice. A win on Sunday would not only see Klopp knock off his bogey team for the first time, but would lift Liverpool back ahead of Man City in the title race; a win for United, meanwhile, would help them to hold off newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers for sixth place.

United, all but the forgotten side of the top-six, have endured hard times at both ends of the field this season — their 28 goals scored are the fewest of the PL’s elite, while their 26 goals conceded are the most of the six sides expected to compete for four UEFA Champions League places; Liverpool, in the same number of games, have conceded just six times, including just once during their current five-game winning streak.

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Joel Matip (shoulder), Joe Gomez (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Trent Alexander-Arnold (knock) | Man United — OUT: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring), Victor Lindelof (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Anthony Martial (hamstring), Scott McTominay (undisclosed), Luke Shaw (undisclosed)

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Leicester City

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Arsenal host Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Gunners aim for a tenth-straight win in all competitions.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Leicester have never won at Arsenal in the Premier League with the Gunners winning each of their last 11 encounters at home against the Foxes.

Unai Emery‘s men have been flying in recent weeks with six wins on the spin in the PL and the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring goals galore in attack.

In team news Arsenal bring in Shkodran Mustafi for the injured Sokratis Papastathopoulos with Stephane Lichtsteiner in at left back.

Leicester make one change with Jonny Evans coming in for the suspended Wes Morgan in central defense.


LINEUPS

Preview: Arsenal v. Leicester City

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  • Arsenal have won 9 games in a row
  • Leicester have never won at Arsenal in PL
  • Jamie Vardy has 6 goals in 6 starts v Arsenal
  • Arsenal has won the most PL games and points in October

Arsenal host Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Unai Emery‘s Gunners aiming for a tenth-straight win in all competitions.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

The Gunners have won six straight in the PL and the duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been scoring goals for fun with 11 goals between them. A win would take Arsenal into fourth place, level on points with Tottenham and Chelsea.

In team news Arsenal may be without Sokratis Papastathopoulos who picked up an ankle injury while on international duty with Greece. Leicester will be without winger Demarai Gray.


What they’re saying

Emery on how Arsenal can improve: “Not a surprise. We are doing the things better in our way, but we also need to continue improving, getting better, because we won more consecutive matches but we also need to improve our control in the game. Every match, every team has solutions and quality to give us problems, and Leicester is the same. Our success every day is work, continuing to work hard to improve these things.”

Puel unsure about Arsenal’s title chances: “They have nine wins at this moment which is incredible. They are confident in their play. They are more direct and clinical at the moment, with a clinical player like (Alexandre) Lacazette for example. They can have good confidence for the future, but for the title I don’t know. It is just the beginning of the season and the Premier League has a lot of possibilities.”


Prediction

Arsenal’s firepower suggests they will once again cause their opponent plenty of problems but the pace of Jamie Vardy on the break has caused their own defense plenty of issues in the box. Expect an open, entertaining game. Arsenal to win 3-1.