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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal steer clear of blood and thunder but do just enough to ensure Europa progress

Europa League

Arsenal (0) 1 Xhaka 70

PSV Eindhoven (0) 0

As an alternative to the home game against Man City which was originally on the fixture list this week, it was pretty insipid.

But at least the Gunners got the job done – making it four wins out of four in the competition to book their place in the knock outs in the new year.

Granit Xhaka stunned himself – as well as most around him – by proving he has a functioning right foot. He was well placed on the edge of the area when Takashiro Tomiyasu carved a ball towards him and the Arsenal skipper clipped a low shot past keeper Walter Benitez.

If Mikel Arteta’s men can finish the job and secure top spot, they will avoid an extra round in the next phase of the competition.

It took Arsenal until midway through the second half to finally pierce the PSV rearguard, having failed to ignite at the business-end of the pitch, for all the promptings of Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka.

A mere Europa group game was never going to quite match the jeopardy, intrigue and sense of occasion that a clash against the champions would have engendered. Not even one against a club with a bit of history. Not even one against a club managed by a man once reviled by Gunners fans.

Ruud van Nistelrooy – such an adversary in his Man United days – was a virtually ignored presence on the sidelines rather than a target for home fans, who seemed mostly subdued.

Put that down possibly to a weird 6pm kick-off time which seemed a throwback homage to behind-closed-doors fixtures during Covid.

Visiting fans were far more vociferous. Determined to enjoy their day out, having had to wait for this game for a little longer than anticipated. The death of the Queen, lest we forgot, had caused the game to be put back.

It wasn’t really worth the wait, to be honest, but at least everyone could get home earlier than normal.

Gunners: (4-4-2) Turner – Tomiyasu (White 76), Holding, Gabriel, Tierney – Saka (Nelson 85), Sambi Lokonga (Partey 67), Xhaka, Vieira (Odegaard 67) – Nketiah, Jesus (Martinelli 76)

PSV: (4-2-3-1) Benitez – Mwene, Ramalho, Obispo, Max (Teze 65) – Sangare, Guttierez – Simons (Ledezma 90), Veerman (De Jong 78), Gakpo – Til (Madueke 65)


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