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 too much for Huddersfield Town (video)

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  • Iwobi opens scoring
  • Kolanisac assists, concedes own goal
  • Aubameyang among several absent stars

Arsenal scores a pair of first half goals in a relatively comfortable 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Alexandre Lacazette scored after Alex Iwobi opened the scoring off a Sead Kolasinac feed, though the latter conceded a stoppage time own goal.

Arsenal is now level on points with fifth-place Chelsea, a point back of fourth place Manchester United. Chelsea has played one fewer match.

Huddersfield is now 13 points off 17th place with 12 matches to play.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka, and Aaron Ramsey all missing from the 18 as well as misfit Mesut Ozil, the hosts would have been anticipating a fine moment.

But it came from Arsenal, who produced the match’s first three shots. The latter was Iwobi’s opener, not hit with muster but enough to beat Ben Hamer off a Sead Kolasinac cross.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles cued up Lacazette for the second goal, just before halftime.

Huddersfield threatened in the second half, and took a goal back when Aaron Mooy‘s through ball led to a Kolasinac own goal.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

AT HALF: Exquisite Wijnaldum goal paces relieved Liverpool

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Sadio Mane‘s goal helped Anfield explode in collective relief, but Georginio Wijnaldum‘s artistic follow-up was the one for the highlight reels.

Watford 0-0 Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

An energetic if sloppy tangle between top half hopefuls is scoreless.

Liverpool 2-0 Bournemouth – NBCSN [STREAM]

Sadio Mane’s header opener allowed Anfield to breathe, and Georginio Wijnaldum’s goal gave it the chance to celebrate true beauty (above).

Southampton 0-0 Cardiff City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Saints with the loan shot on target of the half.

Crystal Palace 0-1 West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Mark Noble has converted a penalty in this week’s London Derby.

Huddersfield 0-2 Arsenal – CNBC [STREAM]

Playing without a handful of stars, Arsenal still has a first-half lead through Sead Kolasinac‘s cross to Alex Iwobi. Ainsley Maitland-Niles cued up Alexandre Lacazette for the second goal, just before halftime.

Gunners school Fulham on New Year’s Day

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  • Xhaka strikes first, 25′
  • Lacazette caps team goal
  • Kamara pulls one back
  • Ramsey puts it to bed

Arsenal responded to its weekend drubbing by turning the lopsided score line on Fulham with a 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

Granit Xhaka, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all scored for the Gunners, who move two points back of fourth-place Chelsea.

Aboubakar Kamara scored for Fulham, who remain 19th with 14 points.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Arsenal was on the front foot from Moment No. 1, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was closely-marked by American defender Tim Ream as he popped an Alex Iwobi pass over the goal from close range.

The visitors nearly surprised when Tom Cairney opened up Ryan Sessegnon on the counter attack, but the youngster missed the far post after beating Bernd Leno.

If Sessegnon could’ve scored the first, he should’ve scored the next: Andre Schurrle swept a gorgeous effort around the Arsenal back line but the winger totally missed the ball.

And how often do you see it? The underdogs miss a chance to go ahead, snapping the favorites into life. Xhaka was the man in the middle to push an Iwobi pass beyond the reach of Rico.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Lacazette made it 2-0 on the business end of a terrific team goal off a throw-in. Aubameyang and Sead Kolasinac were the last two to play the ball en route to the Frenchman for his 56th minute finish.

Jean-Michael Seri cued up Mitrovic for a 69th minute chance, but the Serbian nodded right to Leno.

This time, Fulham responded to the danger by scoring. Kamara got on the end of a Sessegnon cross after Seri stole the ball and set the wheels in motion.

Ramsey restored order with a calm finish into the side netting when a loose ball came his way in the 79th minute.

Rico stayed big to block a 1v1 Aubameyang chip in the 82nd, but was defied when the same striker’s deflected shot hit the back of the net in the 83rd.

Europa League preview: Arsenal, Chelsea aim to stay perfect

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Arsenal and Chelsea will both clinch their Europa League groups with victories on Thursday.

The Gunners are at home to face a Sporting Lisbon side it defeated in Portugal two weeks ago, while the Blues head to Belarus for a rematch with BATE Borisov.

[ MORE: Champions League Weds. wrap ]

Chelsea will use Eden Hazard, but has left Cesc Fabregas, Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Toni Rudiger and Victor Moses back in London. Here’s manager Maurizio Sarri:

“Sometimes it’s better for the players to train rather than just play, to train on some particular physical qualities. If they only play they will lose that physical quality they need, and that’s been proved scientifically over a 21-day period.”

Arsenal will use Alex Iwobi in its match, the Nigerian playing very well in Unai Emery‘s system.

Iwobi credits Emery’s training sessions:

“Unai’s very intense in training and he’s demanding because he knows how good we are. He always wants us to be at 100 per cent, giving our best. It’s not just him, though. We know what we expect from each other, so we’re also trying to get the best out of each other in training.”

Up in Scotland, the Old Firm rivals are facing markedly different challenges on Thursday.

Steven Gerrard‘s Rangers are in Russia to face a group-bottom Spartak Moscow who can leapfrog their visitors with a win. And Celtic needs to attack after losing at RB Leipzig, with the Bundesliga side visiting with a three-point advantage on the third place Bhoys

Full schedule

10:50 a.m. ET
Fenerbahce vs. Anderlecht
Astana vs. Jablonec

12:55 p.m. ET
Spartak Moscow vs. Rangers
Lazio vs. Marseille
Malmo vs. Sarpsborg 08
Genk vs. Besiktas
Dynamo Kiev vs. Stade Rennes
Rapid Vienna vs. Villarreal
BATE Borisov vs. Chelsea
MOL Vidi vs. PAOK
Apollon Limassol vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Krasnodar vs. Standard Liege
Akhisar Belediyespor vs. Sevilla

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen vs. FC Zurich
Real Betis vs. AC Milan
Slavia Prague vs. Copenhagen
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Spartak Trnava
Rosenborg vs. Red Bull Salzburg
Vorskla Poltava vs. Qarabag
Arsenal vs. Sporting Lisbon
Celtic vs. RB Leipzig
Olympiacos vs. F91 Dudelange
Bordeaux vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
Ludogorets vs. AEK Larnaca