Arsenal will need a point to guarantee top-spot in the UEFA Europa League Group A when they travel to take on PSV Eindhoven.

PSV Eindhoven manager Ruud van Nistelrooy mentioned last week how the game against Arsenal was the biggest of his team’s season so far. The Dutch manager will be eager to see his side come out flying when they host the Gunners at home. At the Emirates, the Eredivisie side never got going, as Mikel Arteta’s men dominated proceedings from start to finish.

PSV have been good in the group stages, with the loss at the Emirates the first of the season in the competition. They trail the Gunners by five points, and the home leg would prove a real indication of whether they challenge the north Londoners for the top spot.

Van Nistelrooy’s primary objective would be to qualify for the knockout stages, albeit through the second spot. However, if they drop points on Thursday and Bodo/Glimt beat FC Zurich, things could be complicated for the Eredivisie outfit in their bid to finish second.

As for Arsenal, they are yet to taste defeat in the competition this season. Arteta’s team dominated the game at the Emirates, and the 1-0 scoreline does not justify their performance. Granit Xhaka’s right-footed strike in the second half proved enough to take all three points.

Arteta will hope his team produces a similar performance away from home. The Gunners suffered a minor setback in the Premier League at the weekend, managing only a draw to Southampton. That result allowed Manchester City to close in on Arsenal’s top spot, and Arteta will be eager for a response in midweek.

Arsenal need a point from their remaining two games to confirm their status as Group A winners. A clash away from home to PSV is always a tough proposition. And Arteta will be keen to finish the preliminary rounds as soon as possible, allowing him to rest many of his first-team stars before the Chelsea game in November.

Team News & Tactics

PSV Eindhoven

Ruud van Nistelrooy will have to contend with multiple injuries to his first-team stars. As many as five key players are missing from action. Olivier Boscagli, Marco van Ginkel, Ismael Saibari, Kjell Peersman and Yorbe Vertessen are out of contention through fitness issues.

In the previous leg, PSV were boosted by returns for Noni Madueke, Mauro Junior and Luuk de Jong. The trio may not be deemed fit to start against Arsenal and could remain on the bench again. De Jong, in particular, may not be 100 per cent yet after missing months of action with an ankle injury.

Van Nistelrooy could continue with Guus Til up front, while there could be a start for Anwar El Ghazi in the front line. Moreover, the PSV manager will be hoping for a big performance from two important players, Ibrahim Sangare and star forward Cody Gakpo.

There will also be a key focus on Xavi Simons, who was lively at the Emirates. Besides that, the team picks itself for the clash against Arsenal, with a familiar backline and midfield setup.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Benitez; Teze, Ramalho, Obispo, Max; Sangare, Veerman; El Ghazi, Simons, Gakpo; Til

Arsenal

Mikel Arteta will be without Emile Smith Rowe, Mohamed Elneny and possibly Oleksandr Zinchenko. Zinchenko has not featured since the North London Derby with a muscular problem. And the Arsenal manager will hope to see the Ukrainian international in action before the 2022 FIFA World Cup break, although he could be in contention at the weekend.

Arsenal could line up with Kieran Tierney at left-back, with Takehiro Tomiyasu moving to the right flank. Rob Holding will likely partner Gabriel Magalhaes at the heart of the Arsenal defence, with Ben White and William Saliba likely to be rested or placed on the bench.

Given the need to rest an overplayed Granit Xhaka, Arteta might choose a midfield consisting of Albert Sambi Lokonga, Fabio Vieira and Martin Odegaard. The Swiss midfielder could be an option from the bench alongside Thomas Partey.

Marquinhos missed the latest training session, which casts doubts over his involvement. The Brazilian did not start the last two games in the competition, and his absence is unlikely to cause headaches for Arteta. One of Bukayo Saka or Gabriel Martinelli could start against PSV, with Eddie Nketiah leading the line.

Alternatively, Arteta could start with Gabriel Jesus, Nketiah and Reiss Nelson as his front three, giving both Saka and Martinelli some rest.

Probable lineup (4-3-3): Turner; Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Odegaard, Lokonga, Vieira; Nelson, Nketiah, Martinelli

Key Stats

  • Arsenal have won their last four matches in the UEFA Europa League.
  • Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven matches in the Europa League.
  • Granit Xhaka has played more games (33) in the UEFA Cup/Europa League than any other player in Arsenal’s history.
  • Arsenal have lost in their last two visits to PSV Eindhoven.
  • PSV have scored in each of their last ten Europa League home games.

Player to Watch

Eddie Nketiah

Embed from Getty Images

Nketiah signed a new deal in the summer when he was inches away from leaving as a free agent. While he started plenty of games in the latter stages of last season, he is firmly behind Jesus in the pecking order this term. Some elements from his game are missing, which could be revived with more game time.

He has not scored in the last two games and is yet to find the back of the net in the Premier League. Arteta needs a player who could provide solid options in games against teams like PSV Eindhoven and get the goals, which could unburden the responsibility on Jesus, Saka or Martinelli. Could Nketiah be that player?

Prediction

PSV Eindhoven 1-2 Arsenal

PSV have shown prolific form at home this season, particularly with Cody Gakpo in top form. However, as seen last week, they could be lacking quality against a top team like Arsenal, which could be the case again on Thursday. The Gunners are in a good run of form despite their draw on the weekend.

Mikel Arteta will be eager to wrap up the group with a win, which could be the case on Thursday. While the Arsenal boss is expected to make changes to his personnel, a win looks likely for the Gunners in this away fixture and a finish as group winners. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 victory for the Gunners, who will seal top spot in Group A.

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