Arsenal FC beat PSV Eindhoven 1-0 in a Europa League replay, which was also the Gunners’ eighth consecutive win in a competitive match.
Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta used rotation for the match, which was initially cancelled after the death of Britain’s King Elizabeth II. Compared to the 1-0 win at Leeds United in the Premier League, only five players – Gabriel, Tomiyasu, Xhaka, Saba and Gabriel Jesus – were again in the starting eleven.
In contrast, Eindhoven coach Ruud van Nistelrooy fielded exactly the same starting eleven that had won 6-1 at home to FC Utrecht in the Eredivisie at the weekend.
Superior Gunners lack penetrative power
The Gunners immediately took the initiative and ran the ball through their own ranks. Eindhoven, on the other hand, took a wait-and-see approach and lurked on the counterattack, but hardly ever came close to the penalty area and consequently did not have a clear chance on goal in the entire first half.
Arsenal dominated, but lacked the ultimate consistency in and around the PSV penalty area. Nevertheless, there were good opportunities: Gabriel first missed narrowly (20th) and then failed to beat keeper Benitez (30th). A free kick by Fabio Vieira also just missed the goal (42nd) – and so it went into the dressing room goalless.
Benitez again – Xhaka breaks the spell
After the break, Eindhoven suddenly stood a little higher, so that a somewhat more open game promptly developed. Simons had the best chance of his team to score for PSV (54th). Arsenal, however, remained more dangerous, with Jesus and Saka failing twice to beat Benitez (53rd, 54th). It had long been the Gunners’ duel against the Argentinian PSV keeper, who also saved from Jesus in the 61st minute.
Arsenal’s profligacy almost paid off when Turner had to intervene for the first time with a blocked shot by Simons (69th). Shortly afterwards, the Londoners managed to take the lead: After the substitute Ödegaard and Saka had worked together, Xhaka scored to make it 1:0 (71.). Benitez saved two more shots from Martinelli and Saka (79th, 83rd), while Sangaré’s pass missed the free-running Joker de Jong in the 82nd minute, so that a great chance was already wasted. So it remained a narrow, but nevertheless highly deserved 1-0 victory for the Gunners.
Gunners: Second place safe, group win beckons
Despite now having twelve points from twelve after four games in Group A, Arsenal are not yet certain to win their group and thus reach the last 16. However, they are already assured of second place and a place in the Europa League for the winter.
Arsenal continue their campaign with an away game at Southampton FC on Sunday (3pm), while PSV visit FC Groningen half an hour earlier. The two teams meet again next week in the Europa League on Thursday (6.45pm) in Eindhoven.