After a six-year wait, the iconic Champions League theme will boom out of the Emirates Stadium speakers once again as we return to Europe’s premier club competition by hosting PSV Eindhoven.
In what will be Mikel Arteta’s first game as a manager in the competition, he’ll be taking on familiar foes after we faced the Dutch club twice in the Europa League last term, with each side winning their respective home game.
A repeat of that scenario in north London on Wednesday night would be the perfect way to announce our return to the competition that we qualified for in 19 successive seasons before our recent exile, a record that is only surpassed by Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Bosz bossing the Eredivisie
Much has changed at PSV since last season's visit to N5. Dressing room disputes saw Ruud van Nistelrooy replaced in the dugout by Petr Bosz, while stars such as Xavi Simons, Cody Gakpo and Noni Madueke have all departed since the turn of the year.
However this campaign has started perfectly for Bosz, who managed to retain the Johan Cruyff Shield after beating Feyenoord. PSV have also won all four of their Eredivisie games, recording 4-0 successes either side of the international break against Waalwijk and NEC Nijmegen to move to the top of the table.
Unlike last season, they also managed to make it into the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2018/19, and did so in style. Sturm Graz were crushed 7-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round, leading to a meeting with Rangers. After a 2-2 draw at Ibrox, the Scottish side were thumped 5-1 in Eindhoven as Bosz's team booked their spot in last 32.
Goals have been flowing for the Eindhoven side this season, with 28 recorded in their nine matches. Veteran striker Luuk de Jong already has nine to his name, as well as five assists as he enjoys a purple patch that belittles his 33 years of age.
What the managers say
Arteta: "That's what we want to do [progress from the group], but this is football and tomorrow 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 like every other team that is in the Champions League. It will be a really tough test, I'm sure about that.
"We have to treat it like any other game. We are used to playing top opposition every week in the Premier League and tomorrow again we're going to have a top side fighting against us. The good thing is that we experience that every three or four days in the Premier League, so it won’t be any different tomorrow." - hear everything the boss had to say in his pre-match press conference
Bosz: "I think Arsenal are the toughest opponents in the group. Arsenal also are a team that is in shape. The most important thing is that we show courage. We are playing against a very good opponent, but we have to dare and want to play football ourselves.
"That will be very important if we are to possibly win. They are trying to create one more man in midfield, and we are going to counter that. We will adapt at a detailed level, but our view will not change.”
Adrian Clarke, writing in the official matchday programme: PSV are essentially a possession-based side who want to control matches via a majority share of the ball, so do not be surprised to see our opponents exude patience and quality when knocking the ball around.
Bosz is renowned for his attack-minded approach. His team will look after the ball confidently, commit bodies forward and perform with adventure. The downside to this style is that they do sometimes leave themselves open at the back, and as they like to push so many men forward, they do hold a relatively high line which is an area we may target from turnovers and transitions. The visitors are yet to keep a clean sheet in Europe so far this season, leaking five goals in their four qualifiers.
From a tactical perspective, they like to send the bulk of their attacks down the right-hand side. So far this term 43 per cent of their forays forward have come down that flank, as 20-year-old Belgium international winger Johan Bakayoko [above] has the pace and trickery to cause problems. He enjoys cutting infield onto his stronger left foot; a weapon which has already produced several quality goals and assists.
When crosses are sent into the penalty box De Jong is a menace in the air – as he showed when scoring from a header against us in last season’s Europa League. Whenever Dutch international Joey Veerman is stood over a set piece, De Jong will need to be tightly marked.
Gabriel Martinelli was forced off against Everton after feeling an issue with his hamstring and Mikel Arteta admitted it is too much to expect him to be fit for this game.
Jurrien Timber and Thomas Partey also remain out of action for the foreseeable future, while Mohamed Elneny is still on the comeback trail after his long lay-off with a knee injury.
PSV suffered their own injury scare on the weekend when their marquee summer signing Noa Lang was forced off in the second half of their win against NEC but he has made the trip to England.
Defensive trio Armando Obispo, Fredrik Oppegard and Mauro Junior are all out of the game injured.
Facts and stats
We are unbeaten in our three Champions League home games against PSV (W1 D2), with our sole victory coming in the 2004/05 season. However both of our goals netted in those home games were own goals by PSV defender Alex, three years apart.
PSV were the only side to beat us in last season's Europa League, winning 2-0 at home. They've won none of their four previous visits to our corner of north London in all competitions (D2 L2), with these games seeing just four goals scored in total.
We have progressed past the first group stage in each of our last 17 appearances in the Champions League. We last failed to do so in 1999/00, going on to lose that season's UEFA Cup final on penalties to Galatasaray.
This is PSV's 17th appearance in the Champions League which amounts to 110 games in the competition, second only to Ajax (140) among Dutch sides.
They are winless in their last 14 in the competition (D6 L8) stretching back to December 2015, which is the longest ongoing run without a win among any of the 32 sides featuring in the 2023/24 edition. Their wait for an away win goes back even further to the 2007/08 campaign, a run of 13 away games.
We are unbeaten in our last eight Champions League group stage games (W6 D2), our longest such run since a run of 17 between 2003 and 2006.
Bukayo Saka has been directly involved in 12 goals in 18 starts for us in European competition (five goals and seven assists), although nine of those goal involvements have come in away games.
Gabriel Jesus has netted at least four goals in four of his five campaigns in the competition (20 goals in 38 apps overall).
Luuk de Jong scored in all four of PSV's Champions League qualifiers, netting five goals while also providing two assists. He's also scored in three of his last four appearances for PSV in the competition proper.
Four of Kai Havertz's six Champions League goals have come in home games. His first goal in the competition was the winning goal for Chelsea in the 2021 final against Manchester City.
German referee Felix Zwayer takes charge of this game, who splits his time as a real estate broker to take charge of matches. He has been refereeing in the Bundesliga since 2009, and three years later made it onto FIFA list.
It is the third time he has been in the middle for one of our games, with the others being a 2-2 draw against Spartak Moscow that saw us reach the semi-finals of the 2017/18 Europa League, and February 2020’s 1-0 win at Olympiakos in the same competition.
Zwayer refereed the Nations League final between Spain and Croatia in June when David Raya’s team came out on top via a penalty shootout. In his four Champions League games last year he dished out 23 yellow cards and awarded three penalties
- Referee: Felix Zwayer (GER)
- Assistants: Stefan Lupp, Eduard Beitinger (GER)
- Fourth official: Sven Jablonski (GER)
- VAR: Marco Fritz (GER)
- Assistant VAR: Juan Martinez Munuera (ESP)
We have faced PSV in competitive action on eight occasions, the first six all coming in Champions League ties before last season’s meetings in the Europa League.
In 2002/03, goals from Gilberto Silva, Freddie Ljungberg and a Thierry Henry brace secured a 4-0 win in Eindhoven, before a 0-0 draw at Highbury in the group stages; the same stage that we faced each other in 2004/05 when an own goal secured us a home win before a 1-1 draw in the Netherlands when Lauren and Patrick Vieira both received red cards.
We were drawn against each other again in 2006/07 in the round of 16. PSV won the first leg 1-0 at home, before securing a 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium after Alex scored at both ends to eliminate us from the competition.
Last season saw us paired in the Europa League group stages, when a Granit Xhaka strike saw us secure a 1-0 win at home, but we fell to a 2-0 loss a week later out in Eindhoven when Joey Veerman and de Jong netted.
How to watch
Log in to Arsenal.com and the official app an hour before kick-off for all the best build-up for any Gooner with Breakdown Live.
Nick Bright and Adrian Clarke will be soaking up the atmosphere at Emirates Stadium ahead of kick-off, and will look back at our win at Goodison Park on Sunday. Adrian will break down how we can claim three points from our opening Champions League match and analyse PSV’s visit to north London last season.
They'll also be joined by Olympic gold medalist Lauren Price and rapper M1llionz, before at 8pm live commentary of the game comes from Russ Hargreaves and Nigel Winterburn.
If you want to watch the action, find out which TV channels are showing the game in your country.
Reminise about some of our greatest moments in the competition with our recap of the 20 best goals, games and performances stretching back 25 years to our first Champions League game.
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