Result: PSV 2-0 Arsenal
Competition: Europa League
Date: 27 October 2022
Venue: Philips Stadion
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Holding, Tierney, Lokonga, Xhaka, Ødegaard, Vieira, Martinelli, Nketiah
Subs: Hein, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Ibrahim, Partey, Smith, Cirjan, Saka, Nelson, Jesus
It was a rare loss for Arsenal in Eindhoven, which will come as bitterly disappointing to manager, players and fans alike – as they had a chance to wrap up top spot in their Europa League group, but will now have to wait till the final game at home to Zurich. And crucially Arteta will have to play a stronger team than he might’ve, risking further fatigue and injury.
Poorly defended goals from De Jong and Veerman sealed the win for PSV in a fiery atmosphere at the Philips Stadion. The home side also had no less than three goals disallowed for offside.
Avoiding defeat in the penultimate group stage game would mean securing top spot for Arsenal. In doing so, they would progress directly to the round-of-16 – essentially skipping the first knockout round.
As such, Mikel Arteta opted for a relatively strong line-up to try and ensure the job gets done. Saliba started in central defence, Xhaka and Ødegaard remained in midfield, Martinelli celebrated his 100th game for the club with a starting place, and Ramsdale makes his European debut, coming in for his injured deputy Turner.
PSV tried to impose themselves early on, with the home crowd cheering them on. But it was Arsenal who dominated the early possession, asserting a familiar air of control. However, Xavi Simons had the first shot of the game for the hosts, forcing Ramsdale into a fine save.
Cody Gakpo had the ball in the net for PSV on 18 minutes, via a delightful chipped finish, but the offside flag duly went up straight after and the goal was ruled out. The first real warning sign for Arsenal’s backline.
A few minutes later, Nketiah had a great effort, that seemed destined for the top corner, saved by Walter Benitez. The PSV keeper stretched well to tip the ball behind for an Arsenal corner.
Simons and Gakpo continued to threaten with their youthful drive and dynamism. Not long before half-time, Simons latched onto an El Ghazi chest control and somehow weaved his way through the heart of the Arsenal defence, getting a little lucky with a ricochet, before finishing low past Ramsdale. Luckily, VAR saved the Arsenal defenders’ blushes as another offside was given against the home side.
It has to be noted that Rob Holding, who was made to look rather silly by Simons for the disallowed goal, had the cheek and/or sportsmanship to do the youngster a favour on the half-time whistle by putting a consoling arm round him and (probably) saying something along the lines of ‘better luck next time, son’. He wont get that kind of character development in the Eredivise.
Arsenal came out for the second half with a positive approach, looking like a team who had been given the proverbial boot up the arse. Nketiah came close after an instinctive effort when the ball fell to him from a corner, firing just wide. Then Tierney found himself in space after shaking his man and unleashed a right-footed curling effort which flew just over the bar.
However, the Gunners’ spark failed to ignite any real fire and Ramsdale was forced to make a couple of impressive saves from two efforts in quick succession. One of which was from Gakpo, who minutes later fired wide after trying to squeeze in an effort from a tight angle.
Much to Arsenal’s shame, third time was indeed a charm for PSV on 54 minutes as De Jong teed up Joey Veerman, in all kinds of space, who finished superbly into the top corner. 1-0 PSV.
Arteta responded by bringing on Saka and Partey for Ødegaard and Lokonga. But Arsenal continued to look leggy and laboured.
Not 10 minutes after the first goal, PSV doubled their lead. Creator turned scorer as De Jong climbed well to meet a corner, heading past Ramsdale to make it 2-0 PSV. Too easy.
PSV continued to carve through Arsenal at will. Simons flashed a brilliant ball across the six yard box to Gakpo, who turned the ball into the net – but for the third time in the match, it was disallowed for offisde.
Nketiah had a big chance to pull one back for Arsenal on 78 minutes, but he squandered the opportunity, firing straight at Benitez from close range. Not Eddie’s best night at the office, it has to be said.
Arsenal put on a bit more pressure in the final 10 minutes, but failed to break through the home side’s resilient defence. As the final whistle sounded, it almost came as relief to a disjointed, out-of-rhythm Gunners side who will now have to regroup for Forest on the weekend and wait until match day six to try and secure top spot in the group.