Arsenal enjoyed a fine return to the Champions League as they cruised past PSV Eindhoven at the Emirates Stadium.
Six years of absence were soon brushed to one side – as were PSV – as a scintillating attacking display saw Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard, Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard score in a dominant 4-0 win.
The club’s hiatus from the top table of European football was so long someone felt it necessary to print the words to the Champions League anthem in the matchday programme and Arsenal’s players were certainly singing from the same hymn sheet.
Saka set the tone for the evening, the England winger finishing after PSV goalkeeper Walter Benitez pushed an Odegaard shot into his path inside eight minutes.
Jesus led a counter-attack and played in Saka, who crossed for Trossard to doubled the lead, and the Brazilian got on the scoresheet himself with a fine effort from a deep Trossard cross before the break.
Captain Odegaard was not to be outdone as he angled home a fine finish to further widen the gap in the second half. PA
Arsenal prove they are Champions League contenders with evisceration of PSV Eindhoven
Arsenal cruise to victory: As it happened...
10:18 PM BST
Rich praise for Arsenal's captain
There really is no stopping Martin Odegaard when he finds his flow. He describes it as getting "in the zone" and he definitely got there tonight. The vision, the awareness, the speed of thought... world-class.
— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) September 20, 2023
10:15 PM BST
Arsenal manager speaks
Mikel Arteta: “We enjoyed it, we went for it from the first minute and we were really good in both boxes.
“We need this [players sharing the goals] and have to get used to this.
“Good headaches [having to leave good players out]. It’s probably the hardest thing in the job because you get emotionally attached to them and you know how hard it is for them when they do not play. Emile [Smith Rowe] got a marvellous response [from fans when he came on] and it was a great moment for him.”
“I’m going to go home and have a nice late dinner with my wife now.”
10:07 PM BST
Gunners legend waxes lyrical
Martin Keown on TNT Sports: “It was like rolling the clock back, the way they were so emphatic in beating their opponents. They played some wonderful football. It was a bit like watching the Henry and Pires days, when teams were put to the sword. Odegaard’s rise had been amazing.”
10:05 PM BST
Arsenal captain speaks
Martin Odegaard: “You saw our motivation and energy. To be back in this competition is huge for this club and we really enjoyed it. It was a solid performance and a great start to the competition.
“Before the game you could feel it was special for everyone. The fans were brilliant and we have to thank them for the energy they give us.
“We are in this competition to fight to go all the way and this was great start.”
10:01 PM BST
It was an excellent night for this lad: Gabriel Jesus showed all his class and experience and was a constant menace until he was brought off – no doubt with Sunday’s north London derby in mind. Scored a superb third goal for his team, which ended the match as a contest.
09:56 PM BST
Full-time: Arsenal 4 PSV 0
Could Arsenal have asked for more in their first match back in the Champions for six years? PSV, who arrived in good form and top of the Dutch league, were swatted away, almost with disdain.
Not much of a spectacle for the neutral in the second half, but a highly impressive job by Mikel Arteta’s side nevertheless. They have fired a warning shot to Europe: the Gunners are back.
09:52 PM BST
90 mins: Arsenal 4 PSV 0
TNT Sports commentator Paul Dempsey calls the three minutes of added time “perfunctory”. It’s hard not to agree.
09:49 PM BST
88 mins: Arsenal 4 PSV 0
It feels like one of those international friendlies after loads of substitutions now. PSV look pretty exhausted, they just want it to be over. The Arsenal subs are trying their best to give Arteta something to think about though.
09:45 PM BST
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 20, 2023
09:41 PM BST
81 mins: Arsenal 4 PSV 0
This has been a bruising night for the Dutch side. They top the Eredivisie with four wins from four. They are a storied club with a superb European history. But against the might of one the Premier League’s big boys, they have looked third rate.
Hard not to feel a bit sorry for the ‘smaller’ leagues on nights like this.
09:38 PM BST
75 mins: Arsenal 4 PSV 0
Before the fourth goal, Arteta had made two more subs: off trotted Saka and Jesus, on came Smith Rowe and Vieira (to chants of “Vi-ei-ra, oh oh oh oh oh” etc.)
Now Rice comes off, to a huge roar, with Jorginho coming on.
09:32 PM BST
GOAL! Arsenal 4 PSV 0 (Odegaard 70)
Havertz leads a break and feeds Smith Rowe, on as a sub. He seems to have wasted the chance with a heavy pass but it is worked back to him and he eventually finds Odegaard, via Reiss Nelson. The Arsenal captain fires home low from the edge of the box, across the keeper. It’s a great strike and that’s the knockout blow.
09:28 PM BST
65 mins: Arsenal 3 PSV 0
PSV make two changes, two new boys in fact, Lozano for Bakayaoko and Tillman for Saibari.
The PSV fans are excited by the appearance of Mexican forward Lozano. Fingers crossed, he might make a game of this yet.
TNT Sports commentator Paul Dempsey makes a game attempt at pronouncing the names as they might be said in their native language. Reminds me of my Dad talking to foreigners on holiday.
09:24 PM BST
62 mins: Arsenal 3 PSV 0
Jesus goes close. Nelson is strong in the challenge and finds Havertz – who I forgot was playing to be honest – and the German plays into towards the Brazilian, who tries manfully to flick it towards goal with his back almost turned to the target, but it floats into the side netting.
Understandably, the tension has gone out of this one for now.
09:21 PM BST
59 mins: Arsenal 3 PSV 0
Arteta rings the changes: Off go Zinchenko and Trossard, on come Tomiyasu and Nelson.
That feels very much like “We’ve got this one lads, and it’s Spurs on Sunday”.
09:19 PM BST
58 mins: Arsenal 3 PSV 0
De Jong is not happy at all after a collision with Rice. The Englishman is having none of it though, shouting right back in the face of the Dutchman. Looks tense for a few seconds but then they are mates again, patting each other sportingly, teeth back behind their lips. Touching.
09:16 PM BST
54 mins: Arsenal 3 PSV 0
Credit to PSV, they keep plugging away and creating half sights of goals, but at the same time they look vulnerable every time this slick Arsenal machine moves forward.
Lang again does some damage for the visitors, cutting inside this time and finding his opposite winger Bakayoko, who probably imagined his flighted shot arcing into the top corner, but it is straightforward for Raya.
09:11 PM BST
50 mins: Arsenal 3 PSV 0
A delightfully flighted chipped pass from Odegaard puts Jesus in. His first touch is superb but as he tries to cut inside his marker, he is dispossessed. Maybe tried too much, although he may well have been marginally offside anyway.
09:07 PM BST
47 mins: Arsenal 3 PSV 0
No changes from either manager at the break, which is a surprise, for different reasons.
That lad Lang is causing more problems for Arsenal on the left, though, he ghosts into the box and takes a rather theatrical tumble under a challenge by White. The referee is not bothered.
09:04 PM BST
Arsenal celebrate their third goal, from Gabriel Jesus.
09:02 PM BST
Arteta to ring the changes?
Surely Arteta will make some changes at half-time ahead of derby day at home to a revitalised Tottenham on Sunday. We will find out in a few minutes...
08:59 PM BST
Martin Keown is deeply unimpressed by PSV’s defending in the TNT Sports pundits box. Michael Owen, meanwhile, is eulogising about Arsenal’s forwards.
“They could get stuffed six,” says Owen earnestly, looking very concerned indeed for the Dutch side.
Keown has one eye on the north London derby this weekend and fancies some subs to rest legs. A true club man.
08:52 PM BST
Trossards' goal for 2-0
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 20, 2023
08:50 PM BST
Half-time: Arsenal 3 PSV 0
Bakayoko dances into the box but Gabriel is having none of it and clips the ball – and the danger – away from the Arsenal penalty area.
The hosts have been dominant. It’s like they’ve never been away from this competition.
08:48 PM BST
Gabriel Jesus has looked right at home back in the Champions League. He celebrates putting Arsenal 3-0 up before half-time.
08:42 PM BST
GOAL! Arsenal 3 PSV 0 (Jesus 38)
Arsenal are making this Champions League lark look easy. Trossard is on to a high ball down left, he stops, waits, then picks out Jesus on the far side of the box. The Brazilian also seems to take his time, controlling it nonchalantly and blasting across the keeper and into the far corner.
08:39 PM BST
37 mins: Arsenal 2 PSV 0
A couple of PSV corners and Arsenal rightly looked concerned with the towering De Jong. However, from second Bella-Kotchap, on loan from Southampton, has a free header but sends it wide.
08:36 PM BST
Jesus setting the tone
It feels like PSV have simply been overwhelmed in this opening half an hour. The visitors have actually had some promising moments in attack, with Noa Lang looking dangerous, but at the other end they have no answer to Arsenal’s speed of thought and movement. Jesus is setting the tone in attack, which bodes well for Arsenal ahead of this weekend’s north London derby.
08:35 PM BST
31 mins: Arsenal 2 PSV 0
A mazy but meaningful run by the dangerous Lang down the left takes him into the box and his low cross hits White’s heel – it could have gone anywhere, but Raya is grateful it falls kindly for him. A warning for Arsenal.
08:32 PM BST
Here's looking at you, kid
Trossard does his glasses thing to celebrate his goal. Havertz looks a bit confused.
08:28 PM BST
25 mins: Arsenal 2 PSV 0
Exquisite twist and dummy from Jesus to create a yard of space in the box and his high shot is decent too, but Benitez gets up to claw it away. Good save keeps.
Arsenal are enjoying their return to the Champions League.
08:26 PM BST
24 mins: Arsenal 2 PSV 0
You have to admire PSV’s commitment to adventurous, attacking football, but they are leaving themselves awfully open at the back. Jesus forces a decent save from Benitez with his legs. This could be over by half-time at this rate.
08:24 PM BST
GOAL! Arsenal 2 PSV 0 (Trossard 20)
Jesus leads the counter attack and feeds Saka on the right. He takes it to the edge of the area and picks out Trossard coming in from the other wing, who hits a superb first-time shot low into the far corner. Excellent stuff.
08:21 PM BST
17 mins: Arsenal 1 PSV 0
A superb period of pressure from Arsenal ends with Jesus almost making it 2-0. They passed and probed around the edge of the box and although Odegaard’s shot lacked power, Benitez briefly spilled it, giving Jesus a sniff , but the keeper recovered.
08:19 PM BST
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 20, 2023
Watching it again, you have to give credit to Odegaard – his shot was a real fizzer.
08:16 PM BST
14 mins: Arsenal 1 PSV 0
PSV have kept on patiently trying to build. They do not seem spooked at all. But Arsenal look very dangerous every time they go forward.
08:14 PM BST
11 mins: Arsenal 1 PSV 0
Arsenal inches from going 2-0 up! A lovely team move down the right and Jesus just fails to connect as he slides in. Would have been into an empty net.
08:12 PM BST
GOAL! Arsenal 1 PSV 0 (Saka 8)
Saka started the move on the right and found Odegaard, whose shot was spilled by Benitez and Saka was there to shoot home across the keeper.
08:10 PM BST
7 mins: Arsenal 0 PSV 0
Saka goes down in the box, huge appeals from home crowd but not many from the players. German referee Felix Zwayer is not interested.
08:07 PM BST
The atmosphere really is crackling. Before kick-off, Zinchenko was already windmilling his arms to the home crowd.
Huge cheers for the Champions League anthem from the home crowd. They’ve missed this. Arsenal even printed the lyrics to the anthem in today’s match programme.
08:04 PM BST
2 mins: Arsenal 0 PSV 0
The dangerous Noa Lang cuts in from the left and tests Raya from distance. The keeper was comfortable.
08:02 PM BST
Arsenal are back in the big time...
08:01 PM BST
A minute’s silence for the victims of the earthquake and flooding disaster in Morocco and Libya. Impeccably observed.
07:59 PM BST
Arsenal fans cheer the anthem!
You can see how much it means to them. Back in the Champions League after six years and the home fans greet the tournament anthem with a huge roar! The players look serious but the mascots can’t stop grinning. And why not.
07:56 PM BST
Keown on goalkeeping debate
On the TNT Sports pundits desk, Arsenal legend Martin Keown says Mikel Arteta’s decision to go with David Raya in goal rather than Aaron Ramsdale is tough on the left-out man. But he says Raya’s passing ability is likely to have been the key.
07:52 PM BST
A big night for...
... Declan Rice. The England midfielder makes his Champions League debut. Nights like these are why he moved across London from West Ham.
07:49 PM BST
A reminder of the line-ups...
07:48 PM BST
Trossard gets his chance
Leandro Trossard, who returns to the starting XI tonight, is likely to get more game time after the injury to Gabriel Martinelli. And the little Belgian, writes Telegraph Sport’s chief football correspondent Jason Burt, could just be the solution to Arsenal’s main concern this season – not finding the back of the net enough.
07:42 PM BST
Ramsdale on the bench
... yes, he does look disappointed. The rain not helping, no doubt.
07:40 PM BST
Man in possession
David Raya keeps his place in Arsenal’s starting XI after making his debut against Everton at the weekend. Aaron Ramsdale will be disappointed...
07:36 PM BST
An institution reborn
Telegraph football writer Sam Dean wrote this week about Arsenal’s return to the Champions League, saying their six years’ exile was “the most turbulent and challenging period in Arsenal’s modern history. In the darkest days, it was reasonable to worry if they would ever play in the Champions League again.”
However, Dean writes, Mikel Arteta and his thrilling young squad have brought back the good times at “an institution that has effectively been reborn”.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) September 20, 2023
07:29 PM BST
The rival gaffer
Ruud van Nistelrooy – an easy fit for pantomime villain at the Emirates – was the PSV boss when they played Arsenal twice in last season’s Europa League but he quit towards the end of the campaign and was replaced by the experienced Peter Bosz (above).
The Dutchman – previously in charge of Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen (where he managed Kai Havertz) and Lyon – is man with a similar philosophy to Mikel Arteta in terms of how he likes the game to be played: with a possession-based, attacking emphasis.
Unsurprising then to hear him singing the praises of the Spaniard this week. “He is definitely one of the trainers I follow,” Bosz said of the Arsenal manager. “He wants to play football going forward, wants to entertain people and has a lot of variety in that. I expect a very aggressive and fierce Arsenal. The most important thing is that we show courage. We have to dare and to play football ourselves.”
07:24 PM BST
What to expect from PSV
PSV Eindhoven are flying high – they top the Eredivisie after four wins from their opening four games, having scored 13 and conceded just one.
Last season’s Dutch runners-up, PSV had to battle through two Champions League qualifying rounds to reach the group stage, seeing off Sturm Graz 7-2 over two legs and walloping Rangers 5-1 at home after their first leg at Ibrox had ended 2-2. They have however lost some key players since last season with Cody Gakpo joining Liverpool, Noni Madueke moving to Chelsea, Xavi Simons returning to Paris St-Germain and Ibrahim Sangare switching to Nottingham Forest.
Their danger man tonight is veteran striker Luuk de Jong (above), who has already scored nine this season and chipped in with five assists at the ripe of old age of 33. Powerful in the air, De Jong had an unproductive loan spell at Newcastle so would likely enjoy showing English fans what he can do.
Belgium international Johan Bakayoko, 20, will pose a threat on the right wing with his pace and trickery, while Dutch international Joey Veerman is their set-piece threat. On the other wing, Noa Lang was PSV’s marquee summer signing from Brugge.
07:23 PM BST
Arsenal and PSV were in the same Europa League group last year. A Granit Xhaka strike gave Arsenal 1-0 win at home, but they suffered a 2-0 defeat in Eindhoven a week later when Joey Veerman and Luuk de Jong netted.
07:22 PM BST
Fancy a flutter?
Having a bet on today’s match? First take a look at these free bets and betting offers.
07:19 PM BST
The Dutch side’s attack is led by former Newcastle loanee Luuk de Jong, while former Crystal Palace full-back Patrick van Aanholt is on the bench. Noa Lang, PSV’s marquee summer signing from Brugge, starts after being a fitness doubt. Armel Bella-Kotchap, on loan from Southampton, also starts.
PSV (4-3-3): Benitez; Teze, Bella-Kotchap, Boscagli, Dest; Schouten, Saibari, Veerman; Bakayoko, de Jong, Lang.
Subs: Sambo, Ramalho, Tillman, Pepi, Drommel, Til, Waterman, Babadi, Lozano, van Aanholt, Vertessen.
07:10 PM BST
How times change...
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) September 20, 2023
07:05 PM BST
Raya keeps his place
The big news is that David Raya keeps his place in goal, ahead of Aaron Ramsdale. Raya made his Arsenal debut against Everton on Sunday and kept a clean sheet, but Ramsdale will no doubt be disappointed that he has not been given a chance to make his Champions League debut... yet. Especially because he played such an important role in getting Arsenal back into this competition.
07:01 PM BST
Arsenal's starting XI
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 20, 2023
David Raya continues in goal ahead of Aaron Ramsdale. Leoandro Trossard, Gabriel Jesus and Kai Havertz come back into the XI after starting on the bench fort the win at Everton on Sunday.
Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli (injured) and Fabio Vieira drop out.
07:00 PM BST
Jesus reveals role in Zinchenko move
Gabriel Jesus has revealed how he played the role of “secret agent” in convincing Oleksandr Zinchenko to follow him from Manchester City to Arsenal in the summer of 2022.
Jesus said he made a surprise appearance at Zinchenko’s house in an attempt to persuade the Ukraine international to also make the move.
Zinchenko said that Jesus was Arsenal’s “secret agent” and, speaking ahead of tonight’s match, the Brazil striker joked that he deserves a percentage of the deal.
“I was in Manchester, at home with my family,” Jesus remembered. “I was supposed to come to London the day after, by car. Edu [Arsenal’s sporting director] just texted me and said they were going to Zinny’s house.
“If I wanted to come to join them, to talk with Zinny, then I could come [to London] by plane. So I said, ‘OK’. I went there and talked with him. He was surprised! If I helped a little bit, I am happy because I like him as a player and as a person. I treat him as a brother.”
Jesus said he has now fully overcome the troublesome knee problem that has hindered him in recent months and caused him to have two knee operations in the last year. “My knee is perfect,” he said. “Now it is more about rhythm.”
Jesus also revealed how, as a child in Brazil, he used to skip school to watch the Champions League on TV. “My mum got crazy,” he said. “I grew up dreaming to play in the Champions League, to become a top player. Now I can say this but at that time I could not tell my mum [about skipping school]. Kids, please don’t do that. It’s no good.”
06:49 PM BST
Gunners in the house
06:46 PM BST
Arsenal back at the big boys’ table
After six years of painful banishment, Arsenal are back at the big boy’s table. Gunners fans will be in their seats early tonight to hear the Champions League theme blasted out at the Emirates and boy will it sound good. The tune has even been played in the team gym this week, Gabriel Jesus revealed.
While no club should take sustained success for granted, after 19 successive seasons in Europe’s elite competition before their exile, Arsenal cannot really be blamed for having started to feel like they belonged there. So tonight is a home-coming of sorts.
The visit of PSV Eindhoven in Group B will be Mikel Arteta’s first Champions League match as manager, although he experienced the competition in his previous incarnation as one of Pep Guardiola’s assistants at Manchester City.
”Every time I watched [the Champions League] and we weren’t there, I felt it. This club has to be in the Champions League,” said Arteta this week.”For me it is the first time as a manager, so I am really looking forward to it.”
Arsenal suffered some torrid nights in the Champions League towards the end of their nearly two decades uninterrupted in the competition, often at the hands of Bayern Munich, but Arteta said qualifying for the knockout stage was the bare minimum this season.
“That’s what we want to do, but we’re going to play against a really good team. They haven’t lost a game [this season] and they have won the majority of them, and they are used to winning.”
Arsenal have had a solid if unspectacular start to the domestic season as rival teams have responded to their stunning revival last season by focusing on stifling their passing, attacking style, often resulting in matches that seem like attack-v-defence training drills. Arteta has nevertheless been delighted by his team’s resolve in grinding out three wins by a single goal, a draw and the 3-1 triumph over Manchester United to sit in fourth place, two points off the top.
Tonight could, however, produce more entertaining fare as PSV manager Peter Bosz is also attack-minded, so fingers crossed, the Emirates will witness some decent entertainment. Bring on the theme tune!