Granit Xhaka’s strike was sufficient to maintain the perfect start in Europe as Arsenal qualified for the UEFA Europa League knockout rounds.
Arsenal are still a point away from winning their UEFA Europa League group, but the win against PSV Eindhoven took them a step further. Granit Xhaka’s second-half strike proved sufficient to get the Gunners over the line, as they put in a dominating performance at the Emirates.
The home side had PSV pinned in their half in the first half, although the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah barely tested Walter Benitez. Saka and the Brazilian were on target in the second period, forcing the PSV keeper with smart saves after the break.
Arsenal got their bearings in order and began applying pressure in the opposition box. It seemed like a matter of time before they would score. The goal came around the 70th-minute mark through Xhaka, who took a first-time shot from a Takehiro Tomiyasu delivery.
There was a minor injury scare for Saka as he danced through the PSV defence in one moment. Arsenal fans will be relieved it was only an impact from a kick as the winger continued playing. As for the result, the Gunners are a point away from winning this group, something they will want to wrap up in the next fixture. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
100% winning record ✅
Joint-best defensive record in the #UEL ✅
Confirmed top-two place in Group A ✅
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) October 20, 2022
Matt Turner: 6/10
The American goalkeeper barely warmed his gloves as PSV failed to threaten his goal. Xavi Simons’s tame second-half effort was the only notable save Turner made, keeping a third consecutive clean sheet in the competition.
Takehiro Tomiyasu: 7.5/10
The Japanese international kept PSV’s biggest threat, Cody Gakpo, at an arm’s length. Tomiyasu barely allowed the Dutchman any room to operate while remaining assured on the ball for most parts. He also found a way to assist Xhaka’s goal in capping off a brilliant evening.
Another big performance from Tomi ❤️ pic.twitter.com/EWpiH0baNA
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 20, 2022
Rob Holding: 7/10
Holding was comfortable in possession and under limited pressure. When PSV attackers ran at him, he held his ground and controlled those moments carefully. He remained superior in the air and provided ample support in maintaining a high defensive line.
Gabriel Magalhaes: 7/10
The Brazilian was slightly off with his intensity, but it is understandable, considering the focus remains on Premier League games. Yet, Gabriel played carefully and managed to keep a clean sheet.
Kieran Tierney: 6.5/10
Tierney remained the most advanced defender and had a good first half, using his running power to get into the final third. In the second half, he was more conservative but stood strong to potential threats on his wing.
Albert Sambi Lokonga: 6/10
Lokonga continues progressing in this side, and Arteta views him as a holding midfielder. Yet, compared to Thomas Partey, the Belgian offers less, which often comes back as criticism. To his credit, he was a solid presence in midfield, but he certainly lacks the progressive ability of the Ghanaian midfielder.
Granit Xhaka: 8/10
"Everything is going well at the moment, but this is not a surprise.
"You win and lose as a team, but at the moment we are very dangerous."
He's becoming quite the Arsenal superstar, Granit Xhaka 😏
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 20, 2022
What a season Xhaka is having as he opened his account in the Europa League. The Swiss midfielder often burst forward purposefully and proved a disruptive figure for the PSV defence. After missing a good chance in the first half, he made amends by taking his goal superbly, which proved to be the match-winner.
Fabio Vieira: 5/10
Vieira did not have his best game, as he struggled to create meaningful chances barring a few. When Martin Odegaard replaced him, the Norwegian showed what Arsenal were missing in the position.
Bukayo Saka: 8/10
Saka produced a stellar performance, keeping the PSV defenders on their toes. The English winger made quite a few mazy runs into the box and was a bit unfortunate not to score. Barring a moment of a scare for the fans, the attacker was in sublime form.
🗣️| Mikel Arteta on whether Bukayo Saka’s playing time is sustainable: ⁰
“Look at the top players in the world, they play 70 matches every three days and make the difference and win the game. If you want to be at the top you have to be able to do that.” [@arsenal] #afc pic.twitter.com/QvHzJwVegO
— Arsenal Buzz (@ArsenalBuzzCom) October 20, 2022
Gabriel Jesus: 6.5/10
A frustrating evening for Jesus, who will be relieved his team got through the game with a win. There were chances for the Brazilian, but one cannot doubt his commitment up front. He was dominant against the defenders and became a big outlet for the team’s chance creators.
Eddie Nketiah: 7/10
In hindsight, Nketiah, the player to watch in our preview, had a good game, as he was an energetic presence from the left side. He did fashion the different role brilliantly and proved a threat with many of his runs with the ball at the defenders.
Thomas Partey: 6/10
Partey offered the control that Lokonga could not, and his impact was clear from when he arrived.
Martin Odegaard: 6/10
Odegaard had a big role in the build-up to the Arsenal goal after cleverly finding Tomiyasu on the right. The Norwegian changed the dynamics of the attack, with the goal arriving moments after he came on.
Gabriel Martinelli: 5/10
Martinelli’s arrival allowed Arteta to give some players a breather, and the Brazilian brought in dynamism and energy on the pitch.
Ben White: 5/10
A like-for-like change to replace Tomiyasu, Ben White was decent job after coming on.
Reiss Nelson: N/A
A late substitution as Arsenal strolled around keeping possession of the ball.