LONDON– Arsenal defeated PSV Eindhoven 1-0 on Thursday and remained perfect in their Europa League quest, continuing the good form that has propelled them to the top of the Premier League.
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Despite the game stalling for most of the evening as Arsenal failed to convert chances, Granit Xhaka scored the winning goal in the 70th minute.
ESPN’s Connor O’Halloran has a reaction and analysis from Emirates Stadium.
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1. Arsenal are ready to win the Europa League group
Arsenal’s last defeat in competition was against Manchester United on 4 September. In fact, it’s the only game they haven’t won all season.
The good times are here in the red half of north London: they have made their best start to a Premier League season so far after 10 games and remain flawless in the Europa League with four wins from four and a place in the knockout -Round secured with two group games to spare.
That puts them five points clear of PSV and just inches from winning the group, bypassing the first knockout round to be played days after the end of the group stage on November 7th.
Losing points against PSV on Thursday would have been a hazard – not only because they were in danger of finishing second and beating their opponents in the Champions League, but it would have meant two more games in a season both sides of the World Cup would have been pinched. To prove themselves as serious title contenders for Manchester City, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s side must avoid playing an extra game and against PSV they have ensured just that.
2. Turner reps are doing little to boost stocks ahead of the Worlds
Matt Turner, goalkeeper for the USA men’s national team, plays second fiddle at Arsenal to regular Aaron Ramsdale, whom he will face when the USA take on England in Group B at the World Cup in Qatar. In a pre-game press conference, Turner described his move from New England Revolution to Arsenal this summer as a “necessary risk”.
“It was a risk going from a shoo-in starter to a place where I’m not guaranteed to be a regular starter, but it felt like a necessary risk to take,” Turner said.
That means he needs to take his chances and maximize his reps when they arrive, and this season they’ve arrived in the Europa League. He put in an outstanding performance against Bodo/Glimt last time out which was the main reason Arsenal walked away with a narrow win. But the Europa League clash with PSV, clearly second-best team in Group A, represents his best chance to boost confidence and win replays before chaos begins in Qatar.
However, he had little to do in this clash and it was a missed opportunity for the goalkeeper, favored under Gregg Berhalter, to start ahead of Zack Steffen for the USA. If injuries allow, Turner is likely to have one more run in the first leg in the Netherlands.
Turner may have lacked replays, but he knew that when he joined Arsenal. He must now hope that he is ready for Qatar.
3. Arsenal always finds a way but looks toothless
Arsenal dominated both halves on Thursday, with PSV barely getting a kick while Arteta’s side maintained constant control – 62% possession and 25 shots showing it.
What they largely failed to achieve was a final pass: Kieran Tierney missed a chance in the opening minutes, followed shortly afterwards by a lackluster effort from Granit Xhaka. Gabriel Jesus missed a good chance when he found space between two defenders. Bukayo Saka missed a one-on-one early in the second half.
More waves of possession went unpunished before Xhaka finally broke the deadlock with a beautifully hit half-volley in the 70th minute, but it should have been more. After that, a couple of excellent saves from PSV goalkeeper Walter Benitez ensured the lead stayed at one.
There is little to worry about at Arsenal at the moment but three straight one-goal games for their troubles won’t excite Arteta. However, three wins might.
Arsenal: leno 6; Tomiyasu 7, Holding 7, Gabriel 7, Tierney 7; Lokonga 6, Xhaka 8, Vieira 6; Saka 7, Jesus 8, Nketiah 6
Subtitle: Partey 6, Odegaard 6, Weiß N/A, Martinelli N/A, Nelson N/A
PSV: Benitez 8, Mwene 6, Ramalho 7, Obispo 6, Max 6, Gutierrez 6, Sangare 6, Simons 5, Veerman 5, Gakpo 5, Til 5
Subtitle: Madueke 6, Teze 5, De Jong N/A, Ledezma N/A
Best and worst performers
BEST: Granit Xhaka, Arsenal
He looked confident on the ball all night, spraying passes and advancing into the final third and his goal gave Arsenal another narrow win as he continues his revival under Arteta.
WORST: Cody Gakpo, PSV
Gakpo attracted interest from Manchester United last summer but he did little to showcase that talent on Thursday as he was largely sidelined by Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu.
Highlights and notable moments
Arsenal dominated but couldn’t take their chances, the first half came and went without a goal.
Arsenal had a couple of great chances in the 54th minute but PSV goalkeeper Walter Benitez saved Granit Xhaka and snatched up a missed chance from Gabriel Jesus.
A big save by Walter Benítez to keep the score. 🧤 pic.twitter.com/uHZdh5hrcA
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 20, 2022
However, Arsenal finally broke through with a superb one-off from Xhaka, who turned and placed his shot well out of Benitez’s reach.
The target was a beauty.
A rejuvenated granite Xhaka!
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 20, 2022
After the game: What the players and coaches said
Please come back soon…
Granit Xhaka has scored as many goals this season, three, as in his previous three seasons combined. His goal against PSV was the first of his 17 goals for Arsenal not to be scored with a left foot.
Arsenal: The Gunners travel to Southampton at 9am ET on Sunday to play in the Premier League. They then travel to the Netherlands for the second leg of this Europa League clash and meet PSV again on Thursday 27 October at 12:45pm ET.
PSV Eindhoven: PSV return to the Eredivisie when they take on FC Groningen at 8:30am ET on Sunday. They then host Arsenal for the second leg of this Europa League game on Thursday October 27 at 12:45pm ET.