Venue – Emirates Stadium, London
Date: Thursday, October 20
This game was originally supposed to be played last month but was postponed to this week after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The reason for the postponement was policing issues in London following the death of the late Queen. The timing is a little frustrating given that Arsenal was set to play Manchester City this week in what would have been a top-of-the-table clash in the Premier League. Even so, it should still be a good game on Thursday.
These are the two best teams in Group A and the two expected to progress. Arsenal has won all three games so far in Group A, sitting on a record of nine points from three games. PSV has also picked up two wins, with its lone dropped points coming in a draw with Bodo/Glimt. This has them on seven points from a possible nine, with these two having yet to face off this season.
The return of PSV manager Ruud van Nistelrooy to the Emirates is a wonderful sub-story, given how important the Dutchman was for Manchester United when the Gunners and the Red Devils were the top two clubs in England. He would love nothing more than getting one over on his old rivals here.
Arsenal has a couple of injury and fitness issues ahead of this one. Gabriel Martinelli – one of the key players in how Arsenal has been breaking and attacking this season – has a calf issue and is also dealing with an illness. Oleksandr Zinchenko, meanwhile, is also dealing with a calf problem.
It will be interesting to see how Arsenal approach this rearranged tie. The Premier League leaders will be trying to rotate as much as possible, especially considering they have been good in the Europa League and are currently top of Group A. With that in mind, expect squad players like Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney to get starts in defense, while the likes of Fabio Vieira and Albert Sambi Lokonga will be part of the midfield.
Gabriel Jesus will also likely be rested, with Eddie Nketiah poised to get a rare start up top.
PSV is currently scoring goals for fun. They destroyed FC Zurich 5-0 in the Europa League last Thursday before turning around and smashing Utrecht 6-1 in their weekend match in the Eredivisie. Joey Veerman is one player among the goals, but the team just one point behind Ajax in the Dutch table is getting goals from all players and all positions.
Four wins on the bounce in all competitions – and five from their last six – is the type of form you want to carry into a match with a team as good (and as hot) as Arsenal. PSV will have no fear on Thursday, and this club expects to play against the European elite every season. Players missing this include Yorbe Vertessen, Olivier Boscagli, Marco van Ginkel, and Ismael Saibari.
Look for the Dutch to work their play through Guus Til – he scored two at the weekend – while alleged Arsenal summer target Cody Gakpo will be looking to star against his potential future suitors. I don’t think it will be enough, however, and like Arsenal to win at home even with a number of changes to their side.