Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says his main aim is for the Gunners to qualify from Europa League Group A as winners, while he has also been discussing the fitness of Bukayo Saka.
Arsenal came up against Ruud van Nistelrooy’s PSV at the Emirates on Thursday night. Arteta’s men were looking for their eighth straight victory in all competitions. And that is exactly what they got, with Granit Xhaka scoring the winning goal.
Gabriel Jesus caused PSV problems all night and had numerous shots at goal. However, the striker couldn’t add to his five goals this season.
Saka had a big opportunity in the 54th minute after being sent through by Jesus. However, the England winger was kept out by PSV goalkeeper Walter Daniel Benitez, who did well to block.
Arsenal finally went in front with 70 minutes on the clock. Substitute Martin Odegaard sent Takehiro Tomiyasu off down the right flank. He chipped a ball into the box and Xhaka finished well on the half volley, and on his weaker right foot too.
PSV couldn’t equalise and Arsenal did manage to get their eighth consecutive win. The Gunners now have a five-point lead at the top of Group A and can confirm their place as group winners by beating PSV next week.
During a post-match interview with BT Sport (via BBC Sport), Arteta said: “We had really good moments where we dominated against a really good side.
“We lacked that final pass or shot but we’re happy to win the game and we are qualified which is the first step.”
‘We want to get the job done’, says Mikel Arteta
Arteta then spoke about Arsenal’s main aim, which is to win next week and ensure they don’t have to play in the knockout round play-offs.
“The difference between finishing first and second is big and we want to get the job done [next week],” Arteta said.
He added: “In Europe you have to control the opponent. They are very talented, used to winning and the amount of goals they have scored is incredible – we were really mature.”
When asked about Xhaka’s goal, the Spaniard continued: “It was a great goal with the right foot, a half volley, he is getting in these positions every game that’s why he is scoring the goals.”
Arsenal had a scare when Saka pulled up with what looked like a muscle problem in the second half. However, it seems the wide man should be fit for this weekend. “I think he will be OK,” Arteta said on Saka.
Match winner says Arsenal ‘deserved the win’
In a separate interview with BT Sport, goalscorer Xhaka said: “We had chance after chance and we didn’t have the luck to score earlier but we had the passion to keep the ball, keep creating the chances and I think we deserved the win.
“In the first half we did a lot of pressure. Everyone who comes here is playing similar to PSV, we knew they had the quality to kill us on the counter attack but we did amazing.
“I’m so happy to score. I don’t know when I scored for the last time with the right foot but so happy. It doesn’t matter which foot, or who scores.
“It gives us confidence and on to the next one. When you win games you have to be happy. Everything is going well at the moment. But for us it is not a surprise, we’re doing a lot of work.
“We win and lose as a team and at the moment we are very dangerous. We wanted to go through and are very happy.”