Arsenal were humbled by PSV Eindhoven on matchday five of the Europa League group stage, missing the opportunity to tie up top spot with a game to spare and seeing a run of nine consecutive games without defeat come to an end.
Joey Veerman and half-time substitute Luuk de Jong scored the goals for PSV, who had the ball in the net five times – impressive duo Cody Gakpo and Xavi Simons had three disallowed between them.
PSV had struggled to make much of anything happen in the reverse fixture in north London last week, but had the first opportunity here when Aaron Ramsdale dived low to his right to push a Simons shot from outside the penalty area of safety.
Both Simons and Gakpo were threats for PSV and it was the latter who first had the ball in the net inside 20 minutes. It was marvellous dinked finish from the Dutchman, heavily linked with Arsenal during the summer, but an offside flag ruled it out.
Arsenal’s first real sight of goal came not long after that. Eddie Nketiah’s near post flick had PSV goalkeeper Walter Benitez scrambling to tip the ball wide.
The Gunners settled into some sort of rhythm after that, yet PSV again thought they had taken the lead when Simons danced his way through the defence. This time it took a VAR check to spot the incriminating offside in the build up and Arsenal survived.
Nketiah could have given Arsenal an early second lead when he wrapped his foot around the ball to lash it goalward, narrowly missing the right-hand post. Kieran Tierney also lofted a curling right-footed effort over the bar from a decent position. But again, PSV continued to threaten and Ramsdale made good saves in quick succession from Simons and De Jong.
Gakpo gave Arsenal another warning when he got in behind Takehiro Tomiyasu and flashed the ball dangerously across the face of the goal. That was only moments before Veerman’s well-taken finish, latching onto De Jong’s layoff, put PSV ahead. This time there was no flag or VAR.
Despite being beaten once already, Ramsdale had enjoyed a decent night. But the Arsenal goalkeeper was left red-faced over PSV’s second when he attempted to punch a corner clear, got his timing wrong and missed it. Right next to him, De Jong gratefully headed in.
PSV’s third disallowed goal was another of exceptional quality, with Simons involved again before Ibrahim Sangare’s searching cross was turned in by Gakpo. The flag again went up. It then took an outstanding Ramsdale save to stop De Jong further adding to the lead.
Arsenal did have their own opportunity to halve the deficit, but Benitez was equal to Nketiah’s shot and on-loan centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite was quickest to react to clear before the rebound was turned in.
The Gunners were already through to the Europa League knockout stages before this one, but now must match PSV’s result when they face Zurich at home on matchday six next week to keep hold of first place and a bye to the last 16.
GK: Walter Benitez – 7/10 – Nothing like as busy as he had been in north London in the reverse fixture. But an important save stopped Arsenal mounting a late comeback.
RB: Philipp Mwene – 7/10 – Not great with the ball but did enough to make sure that Martinelli wasn’t much of a threat.
CB: Andre Ramalho – 7/10 – Repelled nearly everything that came his way.
CB: Jarrad Branthwaite – 8/10 – Really impressive against Premier League opposition, which bodes well for his Everton future.
LB: Philipp Max – 7/10 – Strong defensive work to keep the Gunners at bay down his flank.
CM: Ibrahim Sangare – 7/10 – Worked hard in midfield and won his individual battles all game long.
CM: Erick Gutierrez – 7/10 – Didn’t have loads of the ball but played an important role.
RM: Anwar El-Ghazi – 4/10 – Hardly saw the ball and didn’t make it to the second half.
AM: Joey Veerman – 7/10 – A very well-taken goal finally got PSV off the mark after the two disallowed in the first half.
LM: Cody Gakpo (c) – 9/10 – Had the ball in the net twice himself and was a constant thorn in Arsenal’s side.
ST: Xavi Simons – 8/10 – Linked up well with Gakpo and was heavily involved in a lot of PSV’s best work. Had a great solo goal ruled out by VAR.
SUB: Luuk de Jong (46′ for El-Ghazi) – 9/10 – Glued everything together in an attacking sense to tip PSV into the ascendancy. Huge impact.
SUB: Noni Madueke (80′ for Simons) – N/A
SUB: Jordan Teze (80′ for Branthwaite) – N/A
SUB: Guus Til (81′ for Veerman) – N/A
SUB: Mauro Junior (84′ for Gakpo) – N/A
Manager: Ruud van Nistelrooy – 9/10 – His perfect game plan was executed flawlessly and bringing on De Jong at half-time also made the key difference.
GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 5/10 – Made a number of good saves, but his error for PSV’s second goal took the game away from Arsenal.
RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 4/10 – Didn’t venture forward that much because he always had one eye on Gakpo. Lost the Dutchman repeatedly
CB: William Saliba – 4/10 – Really struggled in the second half.
CB: Rob Holding – 4/10 – At fault for the opening goal and sacrificed when PSV went 2-0 up.
LB: Kieran Tierney – 5/10 – Didn’t cover himself in glory defensively. Had got forward in the first half when Martinelli tucked in.
CM: Martin Odegaard (c) – 4/10 – Had a couple of shots but his impact was sorely lacking and he was sacrificed with more than half an hour left.
CM: Albert Sambi Lokonga – 5/10 – Failed to make the most of this chance.
CM: Granit Xhaka – 5/10 – Lost his head late on when he manhandled Simons as he was trying to run down the clock.
RW: Fabio Vieira – 5/10 – Tried to give Arsenal width on that side but struggled to impose himself on the game.
ST: Eddie Nketiah – 6/10 – A few decent chances went begging but at least got himself into positions to have them.
LW: Gabriel Martinelli – 5/10 – Booked for dissent. Disappointing overall.
SUB: Thomas Partey (57′ for Sambi Lokonga) – 5/10
SUB: Bukayo Saka (57′ for Odegaard) – 6/10 –
SUB: Gabriel Jesus (64′ for Holding) – 6/10
SUB: Ben White (74′ for Tierney) – 5/10
SUB: Gabriel (74′ for Tomiyasu) – 5/10
Manager: Mikel Arteta – 5/10 – Had no response when it was clear that PSV were in the ascendancy, despite making several changes to try and fix it.
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