Sub-par Arsenal held at PSV Eindhoven
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (AFP)— A much-changed and lacklustre Arsenal were held 1-1 at Dutch league leaders PSV Eindhoven Tuesday, a result that still sees the Gunners top Champions League Group B.
The pressure was off as both sides had already secured their ticket to the last 16 and Arsenal in particular appeared to lack a competitive bite at the Philips Stadion.
PSV have been the runaway team to catch in this season’s Eredivisie, winning all 15 of their matches and opening up a 10-point gap with nearest challenger Feyenoord.
And it was the Dutch side which started the brighter, a smart move down the right slicing open the Gunners’ defence only for striker Ricardo Pepi to somehow contrive to miss from close range.
Arsenal boss Mikael Arteta made eight changes from the side that lost 1-0 to Aston Villa in the Premier League at the weekend and the Gunners lacked organisation at the back and penetration up front.
PSV created several first-half chances with slick interplay and Belgian international striker Yorbe Vertessen hit the post with a fine header that had Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale beaten.
Arsenal’s first meaningful chance came with nearly half an hour gone, a speculative shot from Egyptian international defender Mohamed Elneny fizzing just past the post.
But the London club took the lead just minutes before the break, as striker Eddie Nketiah was given too much space in the box and fired a low shot into the corner.
One-nil to the Arsenal — against the run of play.
Scoring an impressive 52 goals in domestic competition, PSV have lost only once this season — to Arsenal, who smashed them 4-0 at the Emirates Stadium in the reverse fixture.
And they were back on level terms less than five minutes into the second half when another through-ball dissected the Arsenal midfield and Vertessen curled his shot expertly past Ramsdale.
The hosts continued to stroke the ball around with confidence and Ramsdale kept his side in the game with a fingertip save from Moroccan international Ismael Saibari.
The Gunners were deprived of what would have been an undeserved win as Jakub Kiwior’s powerful header on 82 minutes was ruled out for offside.
And PSV squandered a gilt-edged chance to snatch it at the death, Guus Til dragging his shot wide after being put through for a one-on-one with the keeper.
While both sides continued to press gamely, neither would have been too disappointed with a dead-rubber draw that sees them both into the hat for the last 16.