Arsenal confirmed their place in the Europa League’s knockout stages on Thursday, as Granit Xhaka’s goal proved enough to down PSV.
Granit Xhaka’s volley ensured Arsenal secured qualification for the Europa League’s knockout stages with two games to spare, firing the Gunners to a 1-0 home win over PSV.
Mikel Arteta picked a strong side as Arsenal looked to secure promotion from Group A on Thursday, but PSV looked likely to keep them waiting after a resolute defensive display.
Walter Benitez kept Arsenal at bay until the 70th minute, but Xhaka expertly deflected a right-wing pass into the bottom-left corner to seal progress for the visitors.
While Arsenal are now assured of a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League, a point in next week’s second leg will guarantee them top spot and a bye to the last 16 of the competition.
Xhaka and Gabriel Jesus both dragged with their left foot as Arsenal laid siege to the PSV goal in the early exchanges, with Kieran Tierney also sending in a wild volley.
Fabio Vieira then fired home a free-kick from the bottom left corner in the 41st minute, with Arteta’s side unable to get a shot on target before the break as PSV stood firm.
Arsenal improved after the restart but Benitez pulled off a superb one-on-one save to deny Bukayo Saka on 53 minutes before turning away Jesus’ effort after the Brazilian’s slalom drive.
Eddie Nketiah then smashed an effort just wide of the left post.
But just when Arsenal seemed to be running out of ideas, Xhaka had the last word.
The Switzerland international turned on Takehiro Tomiyasu’s delivery to curl a right-footed effort past Benitez’s dive from just inside the area to seal Arsenal’s progress.
What does it mean? – Perfect progress by the Gunners
Arsenal have started their Europa League campaign with three consecutive victories for the fifth time in as many seasons that they have competed in the competition. However, on only one of those previous occasions have the Gunners won their fourth group game (in 2020-21).
Arteta showed his desire to cement a place in the top two by picking a strong team and Arsenal dominated throughout, managing 25 attempts to PSV’s four, the Gunners’ chances worth 2.6 expected goals (xG).
Xhaka’s goal was the least the Gunners deserved after staying patient at the Emirates, and Arsenal will now be confident they can top Group A.