Arsenal hosted PSV at the Emirates Stadium and relied on the energy and quality of its young talents to secure a promising start in the 23/24 Champions League season.
Arsenal 4×0 PSV
Before we delve into how the game went, it’s worth highlighting the path and the season both teams have followed up to this point.
The Gunners started the 23/24 season very well, with key signings like midfielder Declan Rice and midfielder Kai Havertz, in addition to retaining their young talents like Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, among many others. Under the guidance of Spanish manager Mikel Arteta, they have been playing excellent football at the beginning of the season.
Arsenal is currently in 4th place in the Premier League, with 4 wins and 1 draw. Still unbeaten, the Gunners have shown in these early matches that they trained hard in the preseason and have everything it takes to dispel the ghosts of the previous season when they let the English title slip away.
An interesting fact about this Arsenal team is that they have an average age of 25 years, and their key players are young talents who have an incredible ability to bond both on and off the field, creating a conducive atmosphere for achieving great success.
On the other hand, the Dutch club also boasts good players, especially the younger ones, which is a tradition for the Eindhoven team.
PSV is performing excellently in the Eredivisie, currently sitting in 1st place with 4 wins in 4 games. They have an impressive 100% record so far, with 13 goals scored and only 1 conceded, demonstrating their strong start to the season.
In contrast to Arsenal, this was not PSV’s first game in the 23/24 Champions League, as the Boeren (Farmers) had to go through two qualifying rounds. They eliminated Sturm Graz with an aggregate score of 7-2 and then Rangers with an aggregate score of 7-3, earning their spot in Group B. This group won’t be an easy challenge, as they will be competing for the two qualification spots for the next phase against Arsenal, Lens, and Sevilla.
Arsenal took to the field with a classic 4-3-3 formation, with David Raya in goal, and a defense consisting of White, Saliba, Gabriel Magalhães, and Zinchenko. Declan Rice, Odegaard, and Havertz formed the midfield trio, while Saka, Gabriel Jesus, and Trossard comprised the attacking trio.
Mikel Arteta orchestrated the team masterfully, employing an offensive approach with just one defensive midfielder, well-supported by his teammates in intriguing defensive transitions.
PSV, on the other hand, adopted a slightly more defensive 4-2-3-1 formation, with Benítez in goal and a defensive line consisting of Teze, Armel Bella-Kotchap, Boscagli, and Dest. Shouten and Veerman formed the first line of midfield, with Bakayoko, Saibari, and Noa Lang in front of them, and Luuk De Jong leading the attack.
The Dutch team’s strategy was to defend the spaces on the field effectively and prevent the Arsenal players from making breakthrough passes, but this plan didn’t work out.
The game began with Arsenal displaying a high level of intensity. Odegaard acted as the team’s maestro, orchestrating the transition from midfield to attack. Gabriel Jesus created space up front, while wingers Trossard and Saka exploited the flanks. Just 7 minutes in, Saka dribbled down the left wing, cut inside, and delivered a fine pass to Odegaard, who controlled the ball and fired a powerful shot. Benítez parried, and the ball fell to Saka, who slotted it into the net, making it 1-0.
PSV, on the other hand, struggled to retain possession in Arsenal’s half and failed to penetrate the box. In one of their attempts, 19 minutes in, the Boeren lost the ball, and White intercepted it, immediately delivering a beautiful pass to Gabriel Jesus, who surged forward with the ball. He evaded his marker and played it to Saka on the right. The talented Englishman controlled the ball, swayed, and found Trossard closing in on the edge of the box. The Belgian received the ball and fired a beautiful curling shot past Benítez, making it 2-0 for the cohesive Arsenal side.
Two minutes after the second goal, Arsenal nearly extended their lead. Following a splendid exchange of passes, Odegaard delivered a brilliant through-ball to Jesus inside the box. The Brazilian forward executed a deft layoff to Havertz, who was making a run, but the German’s powerful shot missed the target. It seemed like it was the Gunners’ night, as they continued to press for more. This time, Gabriel Jesus received a fine ball from Trossard at the edge of the box. The number 9 turned, danced past the defender, and unleashed a beautiful shot, only to be denied by Benítez’s excellent save.
Just when it appeared that PSV might gain more possession and escape Arsenal’s pressure, the London team, through a fine left-wing play by Trossard, extended their lead. The Belgian crossed to the far post, and Gabriel Jesus controlled the ball with ease before firing a missile into the net, making it 3-0.
The first half ended this way, and in the second half, things didn’t change significantly. Arsenal naturally lowered their intensity but continued to have clear goal-scoring opportunities, the best of which fell to Jesus, who couldn’t finish accurately from close range after receiving the ball from Havertz.
In the second half, PSV’s performance didn’t improve, and they couldn’t threaten Arsenal in any meaningful way, resulting in a tepid game. Then, at the 67th minute mark, one of the standout players of the match, Martin Odegaard, sealed the Gunners’ magnificent debut in the quest for the coveted Champions League trophy with a spectacular long-range strike from outside the box, making it 4-0.
Gabriel Jesus’ Post-Match Words
In an exclusive interview with TNT Sports Brazil, Gabriel Jesus spoke a bit about the game and the start of the Gunners’ season.
Gabriel praised the team’s collective effort and the lessons imparted by Mikel Arteta throughout the week. The Brazilian forward then asserted that the Arsenal squad is confident about having a great season and competing at the top in various competitions.
Gabriel was also questioned by the reporter about being underestimated, especially here in Brazil, even though he, as the number 9, surpassed Romário’s goal record in the Champions League with today’s goal and is the Brazilian with the most Champions League goals among those playing in the tournament this season.
With utmost humility, Gabriel first mentioned that it’s difficult for him to comment on this matter. He accepts criticism and acknowledges that some are beneficial for his development. He continues to work diligently and expresses gratitude to God for his health and the opportunity to contribute to his team on the field.
1st Round Champions 23/24
Galatasaray 2 x 2 Copenhagen; Bayern Munich 4 x 3 Manchester United
Arsenal 4 x 0 PSV; Sevilla 1 x 1 Lens
Real Madrid 1 x 0 Union Berlin; Braga 1 x 2 Napoli
Benfica 0 x 2 Red Bull Salzburg; Real Sociedad 1 x 1 Inter Milan
Feyenoord 2 x 0 Celtic; Lazio 1 x 1 Atletico Madrid
Milan 0 x 0 Newcastle; PSG 2 x 0 Borussia Dortmund
Young Boys 1 x 3 RB Leipzig; Manchester City 3 x 1 Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk 1 x 3 Porto; Barcelona 5 x 0 Royal Antwerp
Written by João Felipe Miller