Arsenal missed the chance to seal top spot in Group A with a game to spare as Joey Veerman and Luuk de Jong helped PSV to a 2-0 Europa League win over the Gunners at the Philips Stadion.
Lively duo Cody Gakpo and Xavi Simons both had first-half goals disallowed as Arsenal struggled, but PSV finally hit the front when Veerman picked out the top-right corner after the break.
De Jong was outstanding following his half-time introduction, and he got himself on the scoresheet by beating Aaron Ramsdale to a corner delivery as Arsenal crumbled.
The result saw PSV seal their own place in the knockout stage, also keeping alive their chances of usurping Arsenal for top spot.
Arsenal were warned of PSV’s intentions when Gakpo lifted a cool finish over Ramsdale 18 minutes in, only to be denied by the offside flag.
The uninspired Gunners required another reprieve as half-time approached.
Simons somehow squirmed through several challenges before prodding past Ramsdale, but a VAR review spotted an offside in the build-up to halt the hosts’ celebrations.
However, Arsenal’s luck finally ran out nine minutes after the restart, when Veerman took advantage of De Jong’s excellent hold-up play to fire home left-footed.
Mikel Arteta’s men struggled to cope with De Jong throughout the second half, and he made sure of the points when he beat Ramsdale to Gakpo’s corner with a firm header shortly after the hour mark.
Gakpo saw another goal chalked off for offside and De Jong went close with two more headers, but PSV still cruised to victory.
What does it mean? Gunners get reality check
Arsenal’s scintillating start to the season has led to suggestions Arteta’s men could launch a genuine Premier League title bid, while they also entered Thursday’s match looking to defend a perfect record in Europe this term.
Arteta has repeatedly spoken of the importance of topping Group A in order to avoid extra knockout fixtures in the new year, but the Gunners’ hopes of doing so were dealt a serious blow by a brilliant PSV display.
Ruud van Nistelrooy’s team managed just four shots against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last week – their lowest tally in all competitions since November 2016, but they looked a side transformed on home soil as they dealt the Gunners a deserved defeat.
De Jong plays super sub role
PSV did see two goals ruled out before the break, but the sum of their lively performance amounted to just two shots, and one on target, prior to De Jong’s introduction as a half-time substitute.
The former Barcelona striker was in inspired form after entering the fray, however, teeing up the opener before netting a trademark header.
The striker’s goal was his 23rd in European competition while playing for an Eredivisie team, a tally only bettered by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (24) in the 21st century.
Gakpo in shop window
Gakpo has reportedly emerged as a transfer target for the likes of Manchester United following his fine performances in recent months, and the 23-year-old’s pace and trickery was on full display here.
As well as registering his second assist in the Europa League this season, Gakpo created a team-high three chances during an electrifying display.
Arsenal host Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Sunday before facing Zurich in their final Europa League group game next Thursday. The Gunners will need to win that match to be sure of top spot, with PSV bidding to overtake them when they visit Bodo/Glimt.
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