Arsenal host PSV Eindhoven this evening with a chance to take a stranglehold on the Europa League group. Three points would mean the Gunners magic number to win the group is one — one point claimed from their final two group stage matches OR one point dropped by PSV. The clubs have met 6 times in their history, all in the Champions League. Arsenal have won 2, drawn 3, and lost 1. Most Gooners would prefer not to remember the most recent meeting — an 83rd minute Alex goal at the Emirates earned the draw for PSV and knocked the Gunners out of the competition.
Ruud van Nistelrooy’s side are no pushover. The Dutch side are second in the Erediviside, a point behind leaders Ajax. PSV have won 8, drawn 0, and lost 2 on the season. They are led by Cody Gakpo, who was heavily linked with a move to Arsenal over the summer. Gakpo has been directly involved in more goals than any player across all top-flight competition this season, 24 goal involvements in 18 games, and has been the best player in the Eredivisie.
Given the stakes of the match (full control of the group), I expect Mikel Arteta will deploy a strong lineup with several first-choice players. The good news is that even if he decides to rotate his defense, the Gunners have strong options along the backline that should be capable of containing Gakpo. It feels a bit weird to write that after Arsenal’s outside back depth was horribly exposed last season, but here we are.
There’s also something to be said for changing the mindset we have as supporters towards mid-week European matches. These games matter. Arsenal have a legitimate shot at winning the competition, which in addition to being silverware, is a free pass into the Champions League. All the top sides play their better players midweek and weekend, why not Arsenal, too? Sure, you can rotate a few guys who are carrying knocks or “in the red” but most players are used to playing multiple games a week.
Gabriel Martinelli unexpectedly cropped up on the injury report for the Gunners and sat out training on Wednesday, although the suggestion was that it was more maintenance than anything serious. Alex Zinchenko is still out, but Mikel Arteta hinted that we may see him back in action sooner than some expected. Emile Smith Rowe and Mohamed Elneny are both out long-term.
UPDATE: Gabriel Martinelli fit enough for the bench.
Ruud van Nistelrooy broke out the gamesmanship in his pre-match press conference, suggesting that Noni Madueke, Luuk de Jong, and Mauro Junior, who have all been out long-term, might see some action against Arsenal despite none of them making the bench in the league over the weekend. Midfielder Marco van Ginkel will miss out, however.
Arsenal - Turner, Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Lokonga, Xhaka, Vieira, Saka, Nketiah, Jesus
PSV Eindhoven - Benitez, Mwene, Ramalho, Obispo, Max, Sangare, Gutierrez, Veerman, Xavi, Til, Gakpo
WHAT: Arsenal vs. PSV Eindhoven
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: Thursday, October 20th 10 am PT | 1 pm ET | 6 pm BT
US TV: Streaming on Paramount+ and fuboTV.
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