Best odds: 8/5
A final match of the Champions League group stage for PSV Eindhoven and Arsenal is scheduled to take place at the Philips Stadion on Tuesday evening, with both teams concluding their strong performances in Group B.
Both teams have secured their places in the last-16 draw, with PSV Eindhoven as runners-up and Arsenal as group winners. However, Arsenal, in particular, aim to correct recent setbacks by delivering a better performance in the Netherlands.
In October, Peter Bosz’s team salvaged a point from a seemingly lost cause with Jordan Teze’s injury-time equalizer against Europa League holders Sevilla. Their penultimate matchday went even better, securing their spot in the knockout stage.
Sevilla led 2-0 through Sergio Ramos and Youssef En-Nesyri, yet PSV turned the tide. Ismael Saibari’s goal, a Nemanja Gudelj own goal, and an injury-time header from Ricardo Pepi sealed PSV’s second-place finish, dashing Sevilla’s hopes. Bosz and his team celebrated ecstatically on the sidelines.
PSV’s eight-point tally could still be equaled by Lens, but their superior head-to-head record has already secured PSV’s knockout berth over the French side.
Meanwhile, the record of Bosz’s team in the Eredivisie can only be described as perfect, with 15 wins from 15 matches played so far this season. Needless to say, PSV top the table, holding a 10-point advantage over defending champions Feyenoord in second place.
PSV’s domination continued on Thursday with a routine 2-0 win over Heerenveen, marking their 15th consecutive victory in the Dutch top-flight. Goals from Guus Til and Pepi brought it about, extending PSV’s winning streak to eight games in all competitions. Their unbeaten run at Philips Stadion throughout 2023 underscores their dominance, but they will be wary of the fact that it was Arsenal who inflicted them with their last defeat to date.
Winger Hirving Lozano will be technically serving a European suspension after receiving his third booking in Group A against Sevilla, though the Mexico international is currently undergoing treatment for a hip injury, rendering him unavailable for the upcoming match even without the suspension.
During the recent game against Heerenveen, players such as Noa Lang (discomfort), Armel Bella-Kotchap (shoulder injury), Jerdy Schouten (unspecified issue), and Jordan Teze (concussion) were absent. While Schouten and Teze might have a slim chance of returning from their respective situations by Tuesday, coach Bosz shouldn’t take any chances, especially with nothing major at stake.
Given his impactful performances off the bench against Sevilla and Heerenveen, there’s a possibility that Pepi might get a start, particularly with Lozano and Lang sidelined. It is expected that Luuk de Jong will retain his role as the attacking focal point in the team.
While PSV secured their 15th victory of the 2023/24 Eredivisie season in their previous game, Aston Villa recorded their 15th consecutive home league win on Saturday evening, with Unai Emery and his team delivering a blow to Arsenal’s title hopes.
Mikel Arteta, serving a suspension, appeared dejected in the director’s box as Arsenal struggled to convert numerous chances. The team suffered a 1-0 defeat at Villa Park, their second Premier League loss of the season, due to an early John McGinn goal and potentially controversial officiating decisions, particularly what would’ve been an equalizer by Kai Haverz had it not been ruled out for handball.
The Villa game ended their six-game winning streak in all competitions, but the pressure is off for Arsenal as they visit Eindhoven for their upcoming match.
By defeating Lens emphatically last month, Arsenal extended their successful European campaign, boasting an unmatched goal difference of +12 among all 32 teams in the top continental competition this season.
Arsenal’s last accomplishment of winning at least five group-stage games in a single Champions League season was during 2005/06 when they were runners-up to Barcelona. Despite a dazzling 4-0 victory against PSV in a rainy evening at Emirates Stadium in September, the Dutch side emerged victorious over Arteta’s team in last year’s Europa League clash on home ground.
Fourinjured players—Takehiro Tomiyasu (calf), Jurrien Timber (knee), Thomas Partey (thigh), and Fabio Vieira (groin)—will definitely miss this upcoming match, with each expected to remain sidelined for several more weeks. Additionally, Gabriel Martinelli is unavailable due to illness.
Bukayo Saka is also unlikely to play due to a foot problem, which kept him from training on Monday. However, Emile Smith Rowe has fully recovered from a knee issue and has joined the squad for the trip.
Despite praising his team’s overall performance at Villa Park, Arteta acknowledged their wastefulness. As the Gunners’ manager returns to the touchline after a ban, he might consider rotating his squad, especially with upcoming matches against Brighton & Hove Albion and Liverpool.
Players such as Eddie Nketiah, Leandro Trossard, Jorginho, and Jakub Kiwior could see their names on the list of starters, but David Raya should continue in goal ahead of Aaron Ramsdale.
With no competitive edge to this contest, we’re likely to see the two teams conserve their energy as much as possible so as not to disappoint the crowd in the Philips Stadion. A low scoring affair, possibly with the spoils shared at the end.
Best odds: 8/5
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