We marked our return to the Champions League in style as we thrashed PSV Eindhoven amidst a joyous atmosphere at Emirates Stadium.
Matching the weather throughout, the goals rained in on our opponents and we found ourselves three ahead at half-time thanks to strikes from our front three of Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Jesus.
Skipper Martin Odegaard then got in on the act after the restart with a trademark finish that helped us record a scoreline our performance merited, and one that was fitting of the occasion.
Having waited six years to compete in the competition again, we wasted little time in reestablishing ourselves in it as we came out all guns blazing, and swiftly built a solid lead.
Just eight minutes in, Saka edged his way down the right and picked out Odegaard who was given too much time and space to line up a shot, and after it was parried by Walter Benitez, the England international was on hand to simply slip the rebound into the bottom corner to register what was remarkably his first European goal at Emirates Stadium.
Moments later Jesus was a stud’s length away from converting a Ben White cross, and on 18 minutes the damp conditions saw Benitez spill another low Odegaard effort but this time the Argentinian goalkeeper managed to just about recover.
But 60 seconds later, he was picking the ball out of his net again. Jesus pounced on some hesitancy in the visiting defence to spring a counter-attack and find Saka, who again was gifted time to creep closer to the box, and that mistake was punished as he slid a pass for Trossard to fire past Benitez and score in successive games.
Gabby grabs a third
Our attacks were relentless and Jesus twice forced the PSV keeper into saves within the space of a minute, firstly driving the ball at the shot-stopper from an angle, and then after some neat footwork afforded him a sight of goal, a shot destined for the top corner was well tipped over, with Gabriel miscuing a header from the resulting corner when well-placed.
Needing a response, the visitors offered little to show they could get back into the game and only a screwed Johan Bakayoko attempt and an Armel Bella-Kotchap header from a corner caused any sort of concern, but Peter Bosz saw his team’s chances of getting a result diminish further on 38 minutes when the third goal arrived.
A raking Gabriel pass sent Trossard scampering down the left, and his chipped cross to the back post picked out Jesus perfectly. The Brazilian produced an excellent first touch to kill the ball dead, and then hammered it past a helpless Benitez to end the game as a contest.
Skipper on the scoresheet
Half-time came at the right time for the Dutch side who were on the ropes, and the break in play saw us lose some of our attacking potency and rhythm. Jesus prodded wide of the mark after good work from Reiss Nelson and Kai Havertz as we worked back through the gears, and on 70 minutes we found our scoring touch once again.
After Havertz sprung a break, the ball went through substitutes Emile Smith Rowe and Nelson before it arrived at the feet of Odegaard, and again the Norwegian was allowed acres of space to pick his spot, and he executed to perfection from 20 yards to get the goal his performance deserved.
Our dominance of proceedings continued with David Raya rarely called into action, and while we couldn't add to our total in the final 20 minutes, Mikel Arteta’s managerial debut in the Champions League was one he’ll forever look back on fondly.
Facts and stats
We started a Champions League campaign with a win on MD1 for the first time since 2013/14 (2-1 v Marseille), while this was our biggest opening match victory in the competition since 2010/11 (6-0 v Sporting Braga).
PSV remain winless in their last 15 Champions League matches (D6 L9) since a 2-1 home win over CSKA Moscow in December 2015, and are also winless in 14 away games in the competition (D4 L10) since a 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow in November 2007.
In Saka, Trossard, Jesus and Odegaard, we became only the seventh side to have as many as four different players score on their Champions League debut for the club in the same match.
Saka scored his first European competition goal at the Emirates in his 11th such match.
We scored three goals in the first half of a Champions League match for the first time since December 2014 against Galatasaray.
Only Kevin De Bruyne (7) has scored more goals from outside the box in all competitions for Premier League clubs since the start of last season than Odegaard (4).
We return to Premier League action on Sunday when Tottenham Hotspur travel across north London for the first derby day of the campaign, and then attention turns to the Carabao Cup next Wednesday when we head to Brentford for our third-round tie.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.