Arsenal qualify for the knockout stage of the Europa League but still leave themselves open to surrendering the top spot of Group A as Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven ran riot in a 2-0 win over Mikel Arteta’s men at the Phillips Stadion.
Goals from Joey Veerman and Luuk de Jong highlighted an excellent performance from the Dutch giants as the Gunners can consider themselves lucky to not lose by a larger scoreline after the Eredivisie outfit could have found further joy across a dominant attacking display in front of home support.
From the off, Arsenal was out of rhythm and Ruud van Nistelrooij’s troops look intent on setting the record straight in the wake of the matchday four reverse fixture that saw Arteta’s outfit come away with a 1-0 win at the Emirates.
The Gunners had little serious threat overall across the 90-minutes in Eindhoven despite dominating possession (69.8%) and crafting more total shots than the home outfit, but it was PSV’s efficiency in front of goal that eventually stood tallest above any statistical marker.
What’s more, is that Arsenal could have lost by four or five goals if not for a trio of strikes that were called back for offside, with Dutch international star Cody Gakpo just inches away from bagging a brace while Simons too could have added to his goal tally for the season if not for being judged to be ahead of the last defender.
Though Arsenal still sits top of the group, PSV has now closed the gap to just ten points while also offering nearly twice the goals scored the Gunners have managed in the group stage (13 to 7), and the Gunners must now close the book against Swiss outfit FC Zürich who will be feeling confident after a 2-1 comeback win against Bodø/Glimt tonight.
With Nottingham Forest on Sunday back on home soil, it remains to be seen whether or not Arteta will prioritize both upcoming fixtures or if he will continue to rotate the team next Thursday.
What is sure to be in the back of his mind, though is the notion of how much quality will drop down into the Europa League knockout stage that Arsenal could potentially come up against if they do not finish top of the group.
Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Sevilla, Juventus, and AFC Ajax have all failed to progress into the knockout stage of the Champions League and will no doubt constitute sides to be avoided despite their struggles in Europe’s premier club competition.
For Arsenal, murmurings of concern continue to be raised after narrow 1-0 wins against Bodø, Leeds, and PSV before a frustrating 2-2 draw against Southampton last weekend. If Arsenal’s credentials are to stand the test this season, Arteta will need to reignite his young Gunners rapidly if a run of poor results is to be avoided.
PSV Eindhoven Player Ratings
GK: Walter Benitez (7.5)
RB: Phillip Mwene (6)
CB: André Ramalho (6.5)
CB: Jarrad Branthwaite (7)
LB: Philipp Max (6.5)
CM: Ibrahim Sangaré ()7
CM: Érick Gutierrez (6.5)
CAM: Joey Veerman (8)
RW: Anwar El Ghazi (6)
LW: Cody Gakpo (7.5)
CF: Xavi Simons (7.5)
Sub: Luuk de Jong (8.5)
Sub: Noni Madueke (6)
Sub: Guus Til (6)
Sub: Jordan Teze (6)
Sub: Mauro Júnior (6)
Arsenal Player Ratings
GK: Aaron Ramsdale (5.5) - One of the worst performances in an Arsenal shirt tonight for the England international that was highlighted by a massive error that directly led to Luuk de Jong’s goal to put PSV two to the good.
RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (6.5) - Arguably the only Arsenal defender to have a halfway decent outing on the night. The right flank under his watch was less of a problem area than the central channel or the left-hand side. Not good but, okay-ish.
CB: William Saliba (6) - An off night for the French international starlet, which falls in line with just about every other Arsenal player on the night. Saliba struggled but he will likely bounce back.
CB: Rob Holding (6) - Usually performative when given the call on Europa League nights, Holding struggling at the back to really keep PSV in check as part of a collective defensive display that was below standard.
LB: Kieran Tierney (6) - The Scottish international struggled in what appeared to be a much-involved role on the night, and Arsenal may have suffered tactically for it.
CM: Sambi Lokonga (6) - The Belgian international continues to struggle when given a chance to stake a claim for more minutes in the absence of Mohamed Elneny. He was average at best tonight and that could be telling.
CM: Granit Xhaka (6) - The Granit Xhaka resurgence took a bit of a hit tonight in what was a disappointing display for the veteran Swiss midfielder, who it must be said, is not nearly as assured without Partey next to him.
CAM: Martin Ødegaard (6) - A very, very quiet night from the Arsenal captain who may not be expected to always find the back of the net or bag an assist, but he is expected to keep the Gunners flowing. He failed to do that this evening.
RW: Fábio Vieira (6) - The Portuguese youth international still has not found consistency in what is his first season at the club. That certainly must be taken into account, but he should be taking these chances when they’re given.
LW: Gabriel Martinelli (6) - Sub-standard from Martinelli in an otherwise very good overall 2022-23 from the Brazilian but his influence was lacking in a big way. Removed justifiably.
CF: Eddie Nketiah (6) - For a player that signed a £100k-a-week extension and is meant to nail down his role in the team on nights like tonight, he came up short and looked quite lethargic overall.
Sub: Thomas Partey (6) - Brought on with 35-minutes remaining but could not really find a rhythm on the night as Arsenal remained overrun in large passages of play by their Dutch counterparts.
Sub: Bukayo Saka (6) - It’s likely that Mikel Arteta would have wanted to avoid the need to call on Saka and other first-choice options tonight. When introduced, Saka struggled to find any patch of influence through no fault of his own.
Sub: Gabriel Jesus (6) - Booked after coming on and generally did not bring anything extra to the table as part of an overall poor team performance in Eindhoven.
Sub: Ben White (6) - Brought on to shore up the defense. Though Arsenal stopped conceding after his introduction, PSV was coasting at that stage.
Sub: Gabriel Magalhães (6) - A similar performance and rating for Gabriel as White on the evening. Technically he did his job when it came to helping to stem the tide.