Arsenal thrash PSV on Champions League return

Bukayo Saka scored eight minutes into his Champions League debut

Arsenal returned to the Champions League in style as they started their first campaign in six years with an impressive win over PSV Eindhoven at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners wrapped up victory in their opening Group B game with a scintillating first half display that saw them race into a 3-0 lead on a rain-soaked night in north London.

Bukayo Saka opened the scoring after eight minutes, pouncing on a rebound when PSV keeper Walter Benitez could only push Martin Odegaard’s into the England winger’s path.

Saka was involved again when Arsenal doubled their advantage 12 minutes later, laying the ball perfectly into Leandro Trossard’s pass for a smooth low finish after Gabriel Jesus had broken clear.

Jesus was outstanding and thoroughly deserved to add Arsenal’s third seven minutes before half-time with a rising drive that gave Benitez no chance.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta made a host of second-half changes with Sunday’s derby at home to in-form Tottenham in mind, but his side still retained complete control, and Odegaard made it 4-0 with a powerful 20-yard strike with 20 minutes left.

Elsewhere in Group B, French side Lens held Sevilla to a 1-1 draw in Spain as they played in their first Champions League match in 20 years.

Gunners’ perfect night will delight Arteta

Arsenal had been waiting for this day since 2017, and the home crowd celebrated their return to the Champions League with a thunderous roar before kick-off as the tournament’s anthem rang around Emirates Stadium.

And manager Arteta could hardly have wished for a better outcome as Arsenal dominated from the outset, those two early goals emphasising their superiority over PSV and a giving them a control they never looked like relinquishing.

Striker Jesus was a perfect leader of the line, scoring one, helping to create another with a surging break, and also forcing a superb diving save out of keeper Benitez after some outstanding footwork.

David Raya was again chosen ahead of Aaron Ramsdale in goal, and while he was hardly examined, he showed again why Arteta rates him so highly by demonstrating safe handling in conditions difficult as well as some excellent distribution with the ball at his feet.

The added bonus for Arteta was that Arsenal’s victory was so comfortable that he was able to make changes early to keep players fresh for that fixture against Spurs on Sunday.

Saka, Jesus, Trossard, Declan Rice, and Oleksandr Zinchenko were all given an early night to conserve energies for what is shaping up as one of the biggest games of the Premier League season.

The Gunners’ spirits could not be higher after following up their vital win at Everton last weekend with a display full of enough of their trademark fluency to outclass their Dutch opponents.

BBCSPORT

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