Having already qualified for the knockout stages of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League as winners of their group, there was very little pressure on the shoulders of Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta as his team took to the pitch at PSV Eindhoven’s Philips Stadion.
It would be a tough game nonetheless, with their Dutch hosts unbeaten in fifteen Eredivisie appearances – and boasting an impressive 84% win rate across all competitions so far this term.
PSV: Benítez; van Aanholt, Obispo, Ramalho, Teze; Saibari, Júnior, Tillman; Vertessen, Pepi, Bakayoko
ARS: Ramsdale; Kiwior, Gabriel, Saliba, Cédric; Havertz, Jorginho, Elneny; Trossard, Nketiah, Nelson
It was PSV Eindhoven that looked to force the first real chance of Tuesday’s match, with Patrick van Aanholt seeing his shot denied well by Aaron Ramsdale. Pepi could have capitalised, but a fine defensive intervention from William Saliba saw his strike blazed over the woodwork.
A makeshift Gunners defence looked set to be breached as play continued, with Yorbe Vertessen forcing a fine save from Ramsdale after connecting beautifully to head Jordan Teze’s cross towards the bottom corner. Johan Bakayoko could have found the opener with a stunning solo strike mere minutes later, though the forward was left to stand and watch as his effort sailed wide of the upright.
Neat interplay between Pepi and Ismael Saibari could have provided yet another opportunity for the Dutch hosts to thrust themselves into the lead, although last-ditch defending was provided by Saliba to pick up the pieces of another close-to-catastrophic defensive opening.
But the Gunners found their long-awaited breakthrough in the 42nd minute, as tidy buildup on the right flank saw Cédric and Reiss Nelson link up before the latter teed up Eddie Nketiah inside the penalty area; the forward making no mistake as he picked out the back of the net with the aid of the woodwork.Embed from Getty Images
Bakayoko could have restored parity in stoppage time though, putting Ramsdale to work once again as the Englishman had to dive to parry away his low strike – but nothing doing ensured it was Mikel Arteta’s visitors that held the half-time lead.
Vertessen would be left to rue a squandered opportunity at the start of the second half as he dragged wide of the post from the edge of the box, but with fifty minutes on the clock, the winger would make amends for his earlier misses. Selflessly teed up by Pepi, the Belgian slotted past Ramsdale to send the home crowd into raptures.Embed from Getty Images
Saibari could have added their second of the game fifteen minutes later, getting the better of substitute Declan Rice inside the penalty area before rifling a shot towards goal. The midfielder’s strike could only find the base of the woodwork though, with the angle failing to help it cross the line.
A late chance fell for Gus Til to clinch all three points for PSV as he progressed through the centre of the park – but inexplicably the substitute opted to take the shot on himself, dragging his effort wide of the far post rather than finding his colleague in acres of space.
While Arsenal’s progression was confirmed ahead of Tuesday’s clash, tonight’s result ensures that they are joined by PSV Eindhoven in the round-of-sixteen. The draw will take place on 18 December, with ties then commencing in mid-February.
Manchester United face Bayern Munich later on Tuesday, needing a win against the Germans and other results to work in their favour. Manchester City and Newcastle United will play their final group stage matches on Wednesday.