That’s the kind of result that can kick-start a season…


It would be difficult to imagine a match more fraught with anticipation than Wednesday’s clash with PSV Eindhoven. Yes, they’re not quite continental giants. However, they did defeat us the last time we faced off, and it’s been quite some time since we got to hear that epic Champions League anthem at the Emirates. This could have been a banana-peel of the worst sort, but, instead, we came away with quite a few take-aways.

There were no over-awed jitters
The lads came out and went straight for the jugular. It would have been easy to have played it safe, to have come out cautiously for fear of getting caught out, but there was none of that. Saka’s eighth-minute goal came through an incisive pass from Rice to Ødegaard that led to Saka pouncing on the spilled shot. The early goal surely settled any early jangled nerves—keep in mind that only Jesus, Havertz, and Zinchenko had ever played a Champions League match before—and, from there, we took to the Champions League like fish to water. If Sevilla’s struggle at home to RC Lens is any indication, we shouldn’t have any trouble winning the group.

Havertz on the rise
While he has still to register an official goal or assist, Havertz showed signs of starting to settle in. He’s endured three seasons of chaos and will need some time to recalibrate. The early signs from this match were encouraging. He was getting himself into dangerous positions, finding open positions between the lines, doing a lot of donkey work, and making himself available even if the ball wasn’t finding him. Like the early buds of spring, it feels like he’s on the cusp of a breakthrough. It’s a shame that he couldn’t find the back of the net against such an open opponent, but it does feel like the dam will break sooner rather than later.

Ødegaard? More like Oh My God
Remind me again how we convinced this gem of a player to commit himself to a club that was in meltdown mode? Nevermind. We have on our hands a Bergkamp in the making, a blond, one-footed genius who can play the inch-perfect pass, bamboozle his would-be marker, and put the ball in the back of the net. He’s everywhere. and he’ll give you just enough of flair to put defenders on notice—nothing flashy or over the top, mind you—just enough to remind you that the ball is essentially glue to that left boot, and he’ll release when and how he sees fit, and to lethal effect at that.

Should Ramsdale be droppped for Raya?
This one’s a tough call. While Ramsdale form has been less than stellar, he didn’t do anything to deserve being dropped. It’s not as if he’s faced 12 shots and conceded nine goals (that’s an Onana reference for the uncultured Philistines). By contrast, Raya hasn’t had much to do since supplanting Ramsdale, but his distribution has been superior. He’s made a save or two, but neither Everton nor PSV really tested him in a way that would give Arteta clear evidence for or against Raya starting on Sunday in the NLD. If there’s any slim margin on which to make a decision, it might give an edge to Ramsdale, who’s played in a few such derbies and understands the stakes.

Finally, a fluid, swashbuckling result
We’ve endured a stutter-stop start to the season, stumbling our way through five uneven results even if we’ve taken 13 points from 15 available. Even our most-recent win over Man U looks a little less impressive week by week. To have gone into a tetchy match in which all of the pressure was on us to perform on a stage on which very few players had performed and to have come away with such a confident performance has got to give us just a touch of momentum. PSV Eindhoven may not have Barcelona’s pedigree, but they’re hardly Bodø/Glimt either. We’ve been needing a dominant, domineering performance to kick-start our season, and this may have been just the result we’ve needed to work through the lofty expectations generated by last season’s surprising over-achievements and this summer’s ambitious spending.

We should caution ourselves against reading too much into this one result even if PSV dented our ambitions during last season’s Europa League group stage. It’s not as if we defied expectations; we merely held serve. That said, by Arsène’s own calculations, ten points should be enough to earn a spot in the knockout stage. With Sevilla staggering to a draw at home to RC Lens, arguably the easiest fixture in this group stage, our path forward has gotten just a touch easier.

Let’s hope then that this result isn’t just a one-off. There’s enough evidence in it to remind us of this squad’s quality and its growing confidence. Tottenham may have the advantage of a few day’s rest ahead of Sunday’s North London Derby, but I wonder if that confidence and that momentum might just be a bit more…momentous.

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7 thoughts on “That’s the kind of result that can kick-start a season…

  1. Steve Souter

    C’mon the Arsenal…NLD will be tight two sides that want to attack with the ball. I don’t see Ange setting them up to block or defend then counter it’s not his style, that may very well suit us. Let’s not get carried away but there are the green shoots of optimism 3 points are vital if only to maintain momentum and continue improvement on last season.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Indeed. Ante does have them playing some aggressive football which can get risky in both ways. We’ll have to be alert to their attack. Now that Richarlison’s actually scored a goal, he might be feeling much more confidence, and Maddison has come to life in his new surroundings. I feel like we’ll have the edge going in, especially at the Emirates, but we’ll have to be sharp.

  2. jw1

    Aside from romping in Arteta’s CL managing debut– I really liked the way we swaggered throughout. PSV came in having played 9 matches already, topping the Eredivisie and scoring shedloads of goals, playing an open, attacking style. Yet, Arsenal came out swinging– landing a pair of gut punches in the first twenty minutes. We were never really threatened after that point. Mikel made good subs, his timing spot-on.

    This game seemed as if a rehearsal for what Spurs might bring to The Emirates on Sunday. And, better, you know they were watching us play last night (not as if they were busy elsewhere). Might be a measurable ripple of panic running through Spurs training today– having seen a preview of what’s on their dance card this weekend.

  3. A Simple Truth

    given the alternatives, squashing any CL opponent is a noteworthy feat, but that sort of wide open affair will rarely, if ever, happen in the PL…PSV clearly spent a little too much time watching our PL tape thus far and figured they could go toe-to-toe…I get it, considering our laclustre form, but they should have ditched the plane and brought the bus…that said, hopefully this will embolden MA to inject some more directness into our tactical plan against the Spurs, especially if they employ a similar tactical approach

  4. Jon Shay Post author

    You’ve stolen my NLD preview lede! Credit PSV for trying to get up the pitch to attack. It would have been safer & more sensible for them to sit back. In the end, it played to our advantage and serves a decent dress rehearsal for Sunday. Spurs seem to be feeling pretty good lately, but I suspect the feeling is inflated. Most anything would have them feeling good after the last few years. I’ll admit that Richarlison having finally scored has me a bit uneasy. All we need is for him to be playing with confidence.

    As for us, I’m relieved to see us getting back to what worked last year with that backline of Zinchenko-Magalhaes-Saliba-White. They should be strong enough to contend with Richarlison, Son, and Maddison.

  5. patrik.bergstedt Bergstedt

    I dont think PSV was that bad. Another day they might have scored one or two and its a different game. Rewatched the game yesterday and it was less onesided than I first thought.

    Though we were lethal in the box and lonh may it last. Hopefully sunday, beyond and to eternity (Buzz Lightyear:_-).

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      gotta love the Toy Story reference, Patrik. PSV deserve a lot of credit for coming in and attacking. They did have some early chances but their finishing let them down and/or our defenders & Raya were up to the challenge. By contrast, we seemed to finish just about every chance we created (long may that continue). It’s not too early to think about advancing to the group stage, but we do of course have to take care of business to get those 11 or 12 points that guarantee advancement.


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