PSV Eindhoven 1-1 Arsenal: Nketiah nets as much-changed Gunners side scrape draw in dead-rubber

Harry Watkinson
Declan Rice in action for Arsenal against PSV Eindhoven
Declan Rice in action for Arsenal against PSV Eindhoven

Arsenal’s much-changed side were lucky to leave the Netherlands with a 1-1 draw in their dead-rubber Champions League tie against PSV Eindhoven.

A goal apiece either side of half-time saw the top two in Group B share the spoils as Eddie Nketiah’s first Champions League goal was cancelled out by Yorbe Vertessen’s smart finish in a draw.

Manager Mikel Arteta said on the eve of the game that, whoever represented Arsenal had a “duty” to win – but his unfamiliar XI were second-best for much of the night.

Arsenal had already secured top spot in Group B, with PSV assured of qualifying alongside them, and the Gunners showed eight changes to the five alterations made by the hosts.

Despite ringing in the changes, Arteta named first-choice centre-back pairing William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes and the duo were on hand to prevent PSV taking an early lead.

A fine ball from Malik Tillman played in Johan Bakayoko, who squared for Ricardo Pepi – only for a combination of Saliba and recalled goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to stop a shot, with Gabriel brilliantly blocking the follow-up effort from Patrick van Aanholt.

The Arsenal defence was struggling to prevent the hosts breaking at their goal, even with Saliba and Gabriel present, and Vertessen rattled a post with a header after 19 minutes.

Bakayoko was the next to have Ramsdale diving at full-stretch but his shot from distance flashed just wide of a post.

Arsenal would hit the woodwork themselves just before the half-hour as Mohamed Elneny let fly with a trademark long-range effort that hit the base of a post before a well-worked PSV counter ended with Saliba blocking Pepi’s shot.

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Arteta’s side had begun life back in the Champions League after a seven-year absence by easing to victory over PSV at the Emirates in September and, despite this rotated line-up, they would strike first once more.

Nketiah broke the deadlock three minutes before the break with his first proper sight of goal, angling a low drive through the legs of PSV skipper Andre Ramalho and in off the inside of a post.

Ramsdale turned a Bakayoko shot around a post to send Arsenal in ahead at the interval, even though the hosts had dominated for much of the first half.

Vertessen dragged a shot just wide soon after the restart but moments later he deservedly levelled, Saliba this time leaving himself out of position by diving in for an interception and the Belgian curling past Ramsdale.

Arteta made three alterations just after the hour, one enforced as Elneny came off with what appeared to be a thigh problem, with captain Martin Odegaard on in his place, joining both Declan Rice and Ben White off the bench.

Rice went in at centre-back in place of Saliba but was almost caught out minutes later, Ismael Saibari getting the better of the club-record signing before striking a post with Ramsdale beaten.

Jakub Kiwior headed in an Odegaard free-kick with 10 minutes to go but the goal was ruled out for offside against fellow defender Gabriel, who had also attacked the ball.

Not for the first time, Gabriel completely failed to deal with a simple forward ball, leaving Guus Til to burst through and fire wide late on as the tie finished all square.

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