The UEFA Champions League Anthem had been absent from the Emirates Stadium for six years, owing to Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the competition since their 10-2 drubbing against Bayern Munich in 2016/17.
But on a dreary Wednesday evening, as Autumn continues to draw ever closer, the hallowed music would ring around North London once more – albeit only after a spine-tingling rendition of the club’s newly adopted anthem, North London Forever.
ARS: Raya; Zinchenko, Gabriel, Saliba, White; Havertz, Rice, Ødegaard; Trossard, Jesus, Saka
PSV: Benítez; Teze, Bella-Kotchap, Boscagli, Dest; Schouten, Saibari, Veerman; Bakayoko, de Jong, Lang
The Gunners needed just eight minutes to take the lead against their Dutch opposition, with Bukayo Saka netting Arsenal’s first UEFA Champions League goal in six years. With Martin Ødegaard’s initial effort parried back into the box by Walter Benítez, the Englishman was well placed to slam home the opener – and Mikel Arteta’s men had enjoyed the dream start.
But slender leads can be dangerous, and the Gunners were keen to add a second to provide a much-needed safety net. It looked as though Ødegaard would be the next to get his name on the scoresheet when he latched onto Leandro Trossard’s cutback pass, although Benítez dealt with the danger effectively.
The PSV shotstopper was rendered useless just a minute later though, when Trossard rounded out a sensational counterattacking move. Gabriel Jesus’ pass out to Saka was ultimately squared for the Belgian forward, who picked out the bottom right corner with incredible power and accuracy to cue further euphoria at the Emirates.
With confidence at an all-time high, Arsenal sought to put PSV under the cosh. Benítez was heavily relied on by the Dutch defence, producing a handful of crucial saves within a short timeframe – with Jesus desperate to net Arsenal’s third of the night.
And while the goalkeeper had done well to keep the scoreline respectable, Arsenal’s Brazilian forward did eventually find a way through with ten minutes remaining before the interval. Bringing down Trossard’s deep cross, he was able to find space and unleash a thunderous effort into the back of the net – leaving Benítez stunned.
It looked as though the second half would be played at a slower tempo, with the Gunners keen to preserve their lead whilst also making key alterations to ensure full fitness for Sunday’s North London Derby.
That was until Ødegaard netted Arsenal’s fourth of the evening with little over twenty minutes remaining of regulation time, shifting into space to release a rocketing strike towards the bottom right corner. Any slender hopes PSV held of a comeback had surely been extinguished with that goal, with the hosts proving their dominance once more.
And deservedly, it was Arsenal that took three points as the final whistle blew in a wet – but not so miserable – North London. The Gunners’ return to the UEFA Champions League had been nothing short of perfect.
Their attention will now turn to a highly-anticipated North London Derby clash on Sunday, but they’ll return to UEFA Champions League action on 4 October with a trip to RC Lens. PSV will host Sevilla on the same date.