LONDON — Arsenal beat PSV Eindhoven 1-0 on Thursday and stayed perfect in their Europa League quest, continuing the good form that has them top of the Premier League.
Although the match stayed deadlocked much of the night as Arsenal failed to put away chances, Granit Xhaka scored the game-winner in the 70th minute.
ESPN’s Connor O’Halloran has reaction and analysis from Emirates Stadium.
1. Arsenal poised to win Europa League group
The good times are here in the red half of north London: they have achieved their best-ever start to a Premier League season after 10 games, and remain flawless in the Europa League with four wins from four, clinching a spot in the knockout round with two group games to spare.
As such, they are five points clear of PSV and within inches of winning the group, bypassing the first knockout round — which are squeezed days after the group stage end Nov. 7.
Dropping points against PSV on Thursday would have been a danger — not just because they would face the threat of coming second and staring down Champions League opposition, but it would also mean two more games in a season sandwiched either side of the World Cup. To prove serious title contenders to Manchester City, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s side must avoid playing an extra game, and against PSV they ensured just that.
2. Turner’s reps before World Cup do little to boost stock
U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper Matt Turner plays second fiddle at Arsenal to starter Aaron Ramsdale, whom he will meet when the U.S. face Group B foes England at the World Cup in Qatar. In a prematch news conference, Turner described his move to from the New England Revolution to Arsenal this summer as a “necessary risk.”
“It was a risk to go from being a shoo-in starter to a place where I wasn’t guaranteed to be a regular starter, but it felt like a necessary risk that I had to take,” Turner said.
It means he must take his chances and maximise his reps when they arrive, and this season they have come in the Europa League. He put in an outstanding performance last time out against Bodo/Glimt, the main reason Arsenal escaped with a narrow win. But the pair of Europa League clashes with PSV, clearly second-best team in Group A, represent his best chances to boost confidence and gain reps before the bedlam of Qatar kicks off.
Yet, he had little to do in this one, and it was a missed opportunity for the goalkeeper who is the favourite under Gregg Berhalter to start for the U.S. ahead of Zack Steffen. Injuries permitting, Turner will likely have one more run out in the reverse fixture in the Netherlands.
Turner may have lacked reps, but he knew that when he joined Arsenal. He must now hope he is ready for Qatar.
3. Arsenal keep finding a way, but look toothless
Arsenal dominated both halves Thursday with PSV barely enjoying a kick as Arteta’s side remained in constant control — 62% possession and 25 shots shows as much.
What they largely failed to do was find a final pass: Kieran Tierney blazed a chance in the opening minutes, followed shortly by a lacklustre effort from Granit Xhaka. Gabriel Jesus fluffed a decent chance as he found space between two defenders. Bukayo Saka missed a one-on-one early in the second half.
More waves of possession went without punishment before Xhaka finally broke the deadlock with a beautifully taken half-volley on 70 minutes, but it should have been more. Even after that, a couple of superb saves from PSV goalkeeper Walter Benitez meant the lead stayed at one.
There is little to worry about at Arsenal right now, but three successive outings with only a goal to show for their troubles won’t thrill Arteta. Three wins might, though.
Arsenal: Turner 6; Tomiyasu 7, Holding 7, Gabriel 7, Tierney 7; Lokonga 6, Xhaka 8, Vieira 6; Saka 7, Jesus 8, Nketiah 6
Subs: Partey 6, Odegaard 6, White 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
Subs: Madueke 6, Teze 5, De Jong N/A, Ledezma N/A
Best and worst performers
BEST: Granit Xhaka, Arsenal
Looked confident on the ball all night, spraying passes and moving into the final third, and his goal earned Arsenal another narrow win as he continues his revival under Arteta.
WORST: Cody Gakpo, PSV
Gakpo earned the interest of Manchester United last summer, but he did little to showcase that talent Thursday as he was largely marked out of the game by Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu.
Highlights and notable moments
Arsenal dominated but couldn’t make good on their chances, with the first half coming and going without a goal.
Arsenal had a couple of big opportunities in the 54th minute, but PSV goalkeeper Walter Benitez denied Granit Xhaka and scooped up a missed chance from Gabriel Jesus.
A huge save from Walter Benítez to keep the score level. 🧤 pic.twitter.com/uHZdh5hrcA
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 20, 2022
Arsenal eventually found their breakthrough, however, with an excellent one-time strike from Xhaka, who swiveled around and placed his shot well out of Benitez’s reach.
The goal was a beauty.
A rejuvenated Granit Xhaka!
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 20, 2022
After the match: What the players and managers said
Arteta on Xhaka, almost three years to the day he was infamously booed off: “He deserves that — I think he has faced adversity, and in difficult moments he has put his arm up when he had something different to do. His worth ethic, the way he is as a person, the way he treats everybody around the club, and the love for this football club and the profession is unquestionable, and I think he fully deserves that.”
Arteta on Saka playing game after game: “Look at the top players in the world. They play 70 matches, playing every three days, and make the difference and win the game. You want to be at the top, you have to be able to do that, and if we start to put something different in the minds of our young players then that’s a huge mistake… I want it to be ruthless three days, they will be knocking at my door [saying] ‘I want to play.'”
PSV manager Ruud van Nistelrooy on Arsenal dominance: “In the first half we weren’t in the game at all, we were just defending and surviving, which we did and had a clean sheet at half-time. We had some moments where we created half-a-chance or two but that wasn’t enough.”
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 for Arsenal not scored with his left foot.
Arsenal: The Gunners head to Southampton for Premier League action Sunday at 9 a.m. ET. Then they head to the Netherlands for the return leg of this Europa League tie, facing PSV again Oct. 27 at 12:45 p.m. ET.
PSV Eindhoven: PSV return to Eredivisie action when they head to FC Groningen on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Then, they host Arsenal for the return leg of this Europa League tie Oct. 27 at 12:45 p.m. ET.