Arsenal’s first Champions League game for over six years was well worth the wait as they emphatically beat PSV Eindhoven 4-0 in their opening group game at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners swept an incredibly attack-minded PSV aside in an utterly dominant first half, leading 3-0 at the break thanks to goals from Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Jesus. It could have easily been more, relishing their return to the biggest stage in front of a thunderous home crowd.
It was a slightly less clinical Arsenal performance in the second half, but Martin Odegaard’s sensational driven finish from outside the area added a well-deserved fourth. The Gunners comfortably saw out the remaining 20 minutes of normal time, securing a well-earned three points.
How the game unfolded
Mikel Arteta fielded an offensive side for the visit of PSV with Kai Havertz and Odegaard operating as central midfielders in front of Declan Rice, and it didn’t take Arsenal long to get themselves in front against their Dutch opponents.
PSV’s confident start was ultimately fruitless as Odegaard’s effort from the edge of the area was only pushed into Saka’s path by Walter Benitez, with the 22-year-old making no mistake from the rebound to open his Champions League account after just eight minutes.
The attacking spirit of Peter Bosz’s side was admirable but ultimately costly, with Trossard firing a beautiful low finish into the bottom corner just 12 minutes after Saka’s opener to put the Gunners firmly in control at the Emirates Stadium.
It was then Jesus’ turn. The Brazilian was typically mesmeric in the penalty area, producing two fine saves from the increasingly busy Benitez before smashing home a third Arsenal goal on 38 minutes after a deep cross from Trossard. Game, set and match before half-time.
The pressure cooker atmosphere of the first half had simmered down slightly by the beginning of the second, but the game took a familiar shape. Arsenal were dominant from the off in possession and continued to control proceedings, but PSV still offered plenty of threat in attacking areas with the likes of Noa Lang and Ismael Saibari continuing to look lively.
It took until the 70th minute for Arsenal to grab what seemed like an inevitable fourth, captain Odegaard rifling home an exquisite shot from 20 yards out into the bottom left-hand corner to cap off a terrific showing from the Norwegian.
It was then merely a case of seeing the result out for Arsenal as Arteta had the luxury of resting a number of key players ahead of Sunday’s clash with Tottenham in the Premier League. Ultimately, the 4-0 scoreline didn’t flatter the Gunners who made an impressive return to the Champions League.
GK: – David Raya – 7/10 – Didn’t have a great deal to do in terms of shot-stopping, but commanded his penalty area really well. Ramsdale will find it hard to get back in the team at this rate.
RB: Ben White – 6/10 – Yellow card for a needless foul on Sergino Dest late in the first half and did have a few issues up against the impressive Lang, but performed to a generally high standard in a wonderful team performance.
CB: William Saliba – 8/10 – Another effortless performance from the centre-back. Shades of prime Virgil van Dijk about his recent displays.
CB: Gabriel – 7/10 – Dealt with the physicality and aerial threat of Luuk de Jong confidently and partnered Saliba really well.
LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko – 7/10 – Spent half the game in central midfield and was effortlessly good in that role. Impressive defensively against the dynamic Johan Bakoyoko as well.
CM: Martin Odegaard – 8/10 – His shot created the opener after eight minutes and he consistently managed to play the right pass every time he was on the ball. Wonderful finish for the Gunners’ fourth goal.
CM: Declan Rice – 7/10 – Another top tier defensive midfield display from Rice. Worth every penny of the £105m.
CM: Kai Havertz – 6/10 – Some nice touches in a central midfield role and made some decent runs in the penalty area. Just a shade below his attacking counterparts.
RW: Bukayo Saka – 7/10 – Another great performance from the youngster on his Champions League debut. Took his opener well and caused Dest plenty of problems at left-back.
ST: Gabriel Jesus – 8/10 – Sensational finish for Arsenal’s third and could have easily added to his tally had he been a touch more clinical. Continually showed incredible poise in the penalty area and led the line brilliantly.
LW: Leandro Trossard – 8/10 – Took his goal wonderfully and made it look a lot simpler than it should have been. Set up Jesus with a lovely cross for Arsenal’s third and was a constant menace on the left flank.
SUB: Reiss Nelson (58′ for Trossard) – 6/10 – Lively but lacked a little end product in the final third for Arsenal.
SUB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (58′ for Zinchenko) – 6/10 – Did his defensive work well, albeit against a fatigued and well-beaten PSV attack.
SUB: Emile Smith-Rowe (68′ for Jesus) – 6/10 – One overhit pass that could have set Nelson through on goal, but did admirably having played little football recently.
SUB: Fabio Vieira (68′ for Saka) – 7/10 – Starting to blossom into an incredibly useful asset for Arteta and was so composed in possession when he came on.
SUB: Jorginho (76′ for Rice) – N/A
Subs not used: Ramsdale (GK), Hein (GK), Kiwior, Cedric, Elneny, Nketiah.
Mikel Arteta – 8/10 – Fought fire with fire by fielding an offensive side against Bosz’s attacking PSV lineup, with Arsenal rampant from the first minute. Made sensible substitutions with Sunday’s north London derby in mind.
Player of the match: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
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