EINDHOVEN -- Arsenal's bid to top Group A will go to the final match of the pool stages as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to PSV Eindhoven. The Eredivisie side flourished in front of their home support as they took full advantage of a poor Arsenal performance to clinch their spot in the knockouts.
PSV had three goals disallowed due to offside calls, but made two efforts count in the second-half as Joey Veerman opened the scoring in the 55th minute with a neatly placed shot past Aaron Ramsdale. Luuk de Jong's introduction at the break turned the match firmly in PSV's favour and he scored their second in the 63rd minute as he got ahead of Aaron Ramsdale at a corner to put PSV 2-0 up.
Arsenal emptied the bench, bringing on a host of their regular starters, but PSV's intensity did not let up as they recorded an impressive victory.
1. Arsenal stumble
While Arteta said earlier in the week he expects elite players to be able to cope with a 70-match season, he could've done with getting a result on Thursday evening as the last thing he needs is an extra match to contend with. The format of this year's Europa League means the runner up in a pool faces one of the third-placed Champions League sides in an extra match to see who gets through to the next stage of the knockouts.
Any result tonight for Arsenal would've secured top spot, but the defeat means that as things stand, Arsenal have a two-point advantage over PSV heading into the final round of games meaning they cannot afford to step off the gas when they host FC Zurich next week. Arteta has spoken recently about having too thin a squad to be able to rotate in the Premier League and the stand-in players on Thursday hardly put forward a firm case to force their way into the starting line-up anytime soon. This was as poor a night for Arsenal as it was a memorable one for hosts PSV.
2. Gakpo, Simons shine
Leading the line for PSV were two of the brightest young talents in Europe in Cody Gakpo and Xavi Simons. Gakpo was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League in the summer, with Manchester United admirers along with Arsenal, Leeds and Southampton. Though he was quiet at the Emirates last week -- with Takehiro Tomiyasu marking him out of the game -- he was able to show more of his class tonight in front of his home support.
Gakpo had goals disallowed in either half as he mistimed his run to end up the wrong side of the offside line but his pace caused Arsenal issues. And though both his efforts were correctly chalked off and his goal tally for the season remains on 13, he did add assist number 14 for the campaign as his pinpoint corner found Luuk de Jong's head for PSV's second.
Gakpo was partnered by Xavi Simons up front and the 19-year-old was electric for PSV. He had a wonderful goal disallowed in the first half as Anwar El Ghazi was offside in the build up, but his trickery tied Arsenal in knots. With eight goals, three assists this season you could see why he could be a late addition to the Netherlands' squad for the World Cup.
Louis van Gaal named Simons in his extended squad on Friday and he has the ability to turn matches on their head in the blink of an eye. He's flourished since he made his summer move from PSG to PSV and his reputation is only going to grow.
3. Arsenal depth issues
Arteta would've learnt an awful lot on Thursday evening about those players on the periphery of the first-team. The team which finished the match had a familiar look with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli leading the line alongside Eddie Nketiah with Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey holding the midfield down. But given Saka, Jesus and Partey started the match on the bench, Arteta clearly hoped the depth would be strong enough to cope with their absence.
Unfortunately the players he brought in failed to meet the task. Arteta was asked pre-match about Albert Sambi Lokonga's comments around wanting more first-team chances -- Arteta challenged him to make his case on the pitch. He was largely anonymous. Nketiah had three decent chances and failed to take any of them, while Rob Holding was turned by De Jong for PSV's first, with the striker creating enough space for himself to tee up Veerman. Fabio Vieira started out on the right wing but only looked more settled when he was moved more central once Saka had come on.
Kieran Tierney -- who has started three Premier League games this term -- played all along the left flank, in centre midfield and as a marauding attacking midfielder at times but didn't make an impact. On this evidence, you can see why Arteta feels he has to stick with his strongest XI possible at all times in the top flight which must be a concern if they are to keep up this charge in multiple competitions.
Arsenal: Aaron Ramsdale 6, Takehiro Tomiyasu 6, Rob Holding 5, William Saliba 6, Kieran Tierney 5, Granit Xhaka 6, Albert Sambi Lokonga 5, Martin Odegaard 6, Fabio Vieira 6, Gabriel Martinelli 5, Eddie Nketiah 5
Best and worst performers
BEST: Xavi Simons, PSV
He was wonderful for PSV. They had impressive performances throughout with Gakpo, Jarrod Branthwaite, Joey Veerman and substitute Luuk de Jong all outstanding, but it was Simons' trickery that lit up the Eindhoven night.
WORST: Sambi Lokonga, Arsenal
There are a fair few contenders here from the visitors with Nketiah, Holding and Fabio Vieira all poor, but Lokonga was anonymous.
Highlights and notable moments
Luuk de Jong assisted PSV's first goal and scored the second after coming on at half-time. Talk about an impact sub!
An in-form Gakpo has been causing problems for Arsenal's back line.
Cody Gakpo has had two goals disallowed tonight (PSV 3 in total) - he's looked a lot better than the first times I watched him earlier this season. PSV have been great.— Alex Shaw (@AlexShawESPN) October 27, 2022
After the match: What the players and managers said
Ruud van Nistelrooy on Luuk de Jong: "The combination with him as a number 9 with reference but also Cody Gakpo on the left and Xavi Simons on the right, they were taking good positions off him. The team got a lot of confidence that our captain is back and it was a big change from how we played in the first and second half."
Mikel Arteta: "It's the end of a long run for the first defeat after a long period -- it's time to reset and analyse what happened. Congratulations to PSV they deserved to win the game. They were on top of the duels. In all aspects today we were extremely poor."
"It was different today from the beginning -- I don't think we had the threat and aggression we were playing at. In the second half when things went wrong, we went down and didn't find moments to give us hope to react."
- Xavi Simons: 100% dribble success, 100% tackle success, 13 duels contested (most), 10 passes in final third, 6 possession won, 2 chances created, 2 shots
Arsenal: The Gunners face last-place Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Oct. 30, followed by their last Europa League group stage match against FC Zurich, and then a big match against in-form Chelsea in the Premier League on Nov. 6.
PSV Eindhoven: PSV play NEC Nijmegen next in the Eredivisie on Oct. 30. Then, they travel to face Bodo/Glimt on matchday 6 of the Europa League on Nov. 3.