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Hatem Ben Arfa Mocks Unai Emery After Rennes' Win over Arsenal

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2019

Rennes' French forward Hatem Ben Arfa (L) vies with Arsenal's Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg football match between Stade Rennais FC and Arsenal FC at the Roazhon Park stadium in Rennes, northwestern France on March 7, 2019. (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)
DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images

Rennes forward Hatem Ben Arfa mocked Arsenal manager Unai Emery after his side beat the Gunners 3-1 on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League.

Ben Arfa fell out of favour at Paris Saint-Germain when he played there under Emery, and he was quick to aim a dig at the Spaniard following Rennes' win in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Per Metro, he said: "My motivation was to play a solid match, to win and get ourselves into a good position to go through. That's what was in my head. But I did see the same Emery, as agitated as ever. I looked over at him a few times, and that made me laugh a little. He hasn't changed."

Ben Arfa signed for PSG in 2016, just three days after Emery was appointed manager. The Frenchman made 32 appearances under him in his first season but started just 10 times.

He was dropped from the side in April 2017 and did not play again until he left the club last summer, having spent the entire 2017-18 campaign with the reserves.

It was clear he had a point to prove on Thursday, his 32nd birthday:

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Squawka Football @Squawka

Hatem Ben Arfa's game by numbers vs. Arsenal 83% passing accuracy 72 touches 7 take-ons won 4 fouls won 4 accurate through balls 3 shots 3 shots on target 3 chances created Running rings around the Arsenal defence. 💍 https://t.co/SiDsDVbYh0

Arsenal started strongly at Roazhon Park, taking an early lead through Alex Iwobi when his cross sneaked in at the back post.

The game took a turn for the worse for the Gunners shortly before half-time, however. Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who had already been booked for a challenge on Ben Arfa, felled Ismaila Sarr during a Rennes counter-attack and was sent off.

Rennes immediately compounded his exit thanks to Benjamin Bourigeaud:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

WHAT. A. HIT! 💥 Benjamin Bourigeaud got a second bite at the cherry and it absolutely flew into the top corner! A double blow for Arsenal after Sokratis was given his marching orders 👀 https://t.co/ur2hE921hp

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

WHAT. A. HIT. Rennes score a 🚀 to draw level after Sokratis is sent off Watch Rennes vs. Arsenal NOW on #BRLive: https://t.co/vcmWFoF02h https://t.co/UZvJUSj95o

In the second half, the French side took the lead when Mehdi Zeffane's cross deflected in off Nacho Monreal, and Sarr added a third late on:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

A counter-attacking masterclass from Rennes! 😮 Rising star Ismaila Sarr puts it away and deals a big blow to Arsenal ahead of the second leg... Superb team goal 👌 https://t.co/GqxrKCi9xH

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Rennes make it 3-1 against Arsenal and everyone went crazy 🎉 https://t.co/5fTqRWdj6Q

Rennes will thus take a two-goal lead with them to the Emirates Stadium for Thursday's second leg, and Ben Arfa is confident they can complete the job:

Get French Football News @GFFN

Hatem Ben Arfa: “Before the game, we were not favourites. Today, after this 3-1, we are favourites. Some people will say the opposite. But I say we are favourites. And we will go to London to win.”

In the Premier League, only five points separate Tottenham Hotspur in third and Chelsea in sixth. The Gunners are fifth, one point ahead of Chelsea and one behind Manchester United.

The race for UEFA Champions League qualification will go down to the wire, and there's a good chance Arsenal might be one of the two who miss out.

The Europa League is their alternative and the only silverware they can win this season, so it's vital they continue to progress.

Having an away goal will help, but they will need to be at their best to overturn this deficit against an impressive Rennes side.

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