Despite Mikel Arteta selecting a solid team for the Europa League match against PSV Eindhoven, Arsenal’s stellar run of play came to an abrupt end in a 2-0 loss. When former Newcastle and Barcelona striker Luuk de Jong entered the game at halftime, it was completely different.
De Jong defeated Rob Holding to set up Joey Veerman for the game’s first goal in the 55th minute before scoring himself eight minutes later.
The goal of Arteta’s powerful lineup was to get a point, secure top place in Group A, and advance directly to the Round of 16 in March. However, because of their slow ball movement, they were unable to take use of their ball domination.
They paid a price for this lack of precision in the final third as De Jong shattered the game in just eight minutes. De Jong headed in a corner after Veerman’s first-time attempt was not blocked by Aaron Ramsdale.
Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, and Gabriel Jesus were brought in as substitutes by Arteta, but PSV held on to secure their spot in the knockout rounds.
Next week, Arsenal hosts FC Zurich with a win securing first place and preventing a playoff round in February.
Three days before to a trip to Chelsea, Arteta would have hoped to field a second-string lineup for that encounter, but he may now be forced to alter his plans.
BACK IN THE GOALS, Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo scored after coming back to help Manchester United defeat Sheriff 3-0 in the Europa League.
Ronaldo struggled throughout much of the game as Sheriff held off their much bigger opponents with a resolute defensive effort, only to crumble shortly before halftime when Diogo Dalot headed in a corner.
In the 65th minute, replacement Marcus Rashford made it 2-0 with a strong header after fellow substitute Luke Shaw set him up.
Ronaldo was a picture of displeasure after having a close-range shot blocked, missing a great opportunity to score in the second half, and having a goal disallowed for offside. As a result, the Portuguese star picked up the ball out of the goal and kicked it into the crowd.