Arsenal (0) 1 PSV Eindhoven (0) 0
Europa League, Group Stage Matchday 4 of 6
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Thursday, 20th October 2022. Kick-off time: 6.00pm
(4-2-3-1) Matt Turner; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Albert Sambi Lokonga, Granit Xhaka(c); Bukayo Saka, Fabio Vieira, Eddie Nketiah; Gabriel Jesus.
Substitutes: Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Thomas Partey, Martin Ødegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, William Saliba, Reiss Nelson, (Marcus Vinicius Oliveira Alencar) Marquinhos, Karl Hein, Catalin Cirjan, Khayon Edwards.
Scorers: Granit Xhaka (70 mins)
Yellow Cards: Kieran Tierney, Granit Xhaka, Martin Ødegaard
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 62%
Referee: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández (Spain)
Assistant Referees: José Naranjo (Spain), Diego Sanchez Rojo (Spain)
Fourth Official: Muñiz Ruiz (Spain)
UEFA Referee Observer: Kristinn Jakobsson (Iceland)
UEFA Delegate: Miroslaw Ryszka (Poland)
VAR Team at UEFA HQ, Nyon, Switzerland: VAR Juan Martínez Munuera (Spain); AVAR Ricardo De Burgos (Spain)
Attendance: circa 50,000
Tonight’s match at the Emirates is of course, the rescheduled second game from a month ago, and quite frankly, it is one that we need to win in order to continue our one hundred per cent record in Group A of this season’s Europa League. Our opponents are currently in second place in the table, and it is also interesting to note that the PSV Eindhoven coach is the former Manchester United player Ruud van Nistelrooy; if his team is as competitive as he was, then we should certainly see an interesting match tonight.
Within minutes of the kick-off, Eddie Nketiah’s right footed shot from outside the box missed to the right of the PSV Eindhoven goal, which led to the next ten minutes or so of pressure on the visitors’ goal with Kieran Tierney, Granit Xhaka and Eddie Nketiah getting very close to opening the scoring with superb shots on the PSV goal from open play. The match rocked backwards and forwards but overall at this point in the game, we were the dominant team, although when PSV Eindhoven came forward, they did threaten us although they were caught offside on several occasions, the most dangerous one being when Guus Til tried a through ball, but Xavi Simons was caught offside, thankfully. Nine minutes before the half-time break, Bukayo Saka crossed the ball (following a corner) into the visitors’ penalty area, finding Gabriel, who had an attempt to score from a very close range, but narrowly missed the goal unfortunately. With five minutes left before the break, Graniti Xhaka won a free kick in the PSV half, and although his through ball found Fabio Vieira, his left-footed shot went agonisingly wide. In injury time, Granit Xhaka was booked for a petulant tackle on an opponent, which was a shame really; it also meant that we went into the break honours even.
The second half started rather sluggishly, but livened up seven minutes into the half when Bukayo Saka set up Gabriel Jesus, whose strong left-footed shot from the centre of the box was saved in the centre of the goal. The visitors came back at us, with an excellent Xavi Simons effort from the centre of the box which went high and wide to the right, and almost immediately from Matt Turner’s goal kick, Gabriel Jesus grabbed the ball, and got it to Bukayo Saka, but the goalie managed to get his hand to the effort somehow. PSV Eindhoven started to get frustrated, so much so that Érick Gutiérrez was booked for a nasty challenge, which merely served our desire to win this match. Granit Xhaka, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus were lining up to take pot shots by this time, and although the visitors tried to hold us up by committing fouls, it seemed inevitable that we would score, and score soon as well. Mikel Arteta made a double substitution with Thomas Partey and Martin Ødegaard replacing Fábio Vieira and Albert Sambi Lokonga in order to push forward and get a goal, and sure enough with twenty minutes of the match remaining, utilising a pass from Takehiro Tomiyasu, Granit Xhaka’s right-footed shot from the centre of the box beat the goalkeeper and ended up in the bottom left corner of the net to give us the lead in this match at last. In order to consolidate our lead, two more substitutions were made when Takehiro Tomiyasu and Gabriel Jesus were replaced by Ben White and Gabriel Martinelli to add yet more spark to the side. Martin Ødegaard and Gabriel Martinelli linked up well, with the latter being unlucky to score with eleven minutes of the game remaining, and both Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah were desperately unlucky not to score as the match entered its last five minutes. Reiss Nelson replaceds Bukayo Saka, and a couple of minutes later, both Martin Ødegaard and Kieran Tierney were given yellow cards for fouls which were borne out of frustration more than anything else. After an excellent Eddie Nketiah shot from the centre of the box which was blocked by a PSV defender, the whistle blew for the end of the match, and our unbeaten record remained intact.
It was not one of the great matches, but we kept our record, and if we get a point from next week’s return leg in Eindhoven, then we proceed to the last sixteen of this competition as group winners which is the most important thing of all. It is to be recalled, with regards to this match that Eddie Nketiah had six of our twenty-five efforts on goal, failing to hit the target once, whilst Granit Xhaka missed a certain goal on his favoured left foot from an arguably easier position in the first half than the chance he scored with in the second half. Bukayo Saka saw two powerful efforts superbly repelled by the PSV goalkeeper, whilst Gabriel Jesus was particularly unlucky in his pursuit of a goal. But the bottom line of it all, is that we won, and we proceed in this competition.
Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadum on Sunday, 23rd October at 2.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon