Arsenal's superb start to the season can go up a notch when they host PSV Eindhoven in their rearranged Europa League tie on Thursday, with a draw being enough to seal a top-two finish in the group.
This article was originally published on 19th October 2022
The Gunners not only sit proudly top of the Premier League, four points clear of the rest, but they are also closing in on progressing in Europe after winning their first three Group A games in the continent's second-tier competition with the minimum of fuss.
|What||Arsenal v PSV Eindhoven, Europa League|
|Where||Emirates Stadium, London|
|When||18:00, Thursday 20th October|
|How to watch||BT Sport 1|
|Odds||Arsenal 1/2, PSV 5/1, Draw 7/2|
Things are really beginning to take shape at the Emirates and Mikel Arteta's men are now expected to get a positive result against the Dutch giants to further take total control of the group.
The eventual winner of Group A will progress straight to the last-16 of the competition next year, while second place is only assured a spot in the knock-out round play-offs, so the in-form Gunners will be keen to wrap things up as soon as possible as they prepare to take on their nearest challengers.
A win on Thursday would not guarantee them top spot just yet but it would mean the Premier League leaders would need just two points from their final two games - away at PSV next week and then at home to FC Zurich early next month - to finish first.
The Gunners go into the match on a fantastic seven-game winning sequence in all competitions so they will be confident of another victory to move them to the verge of qualification for the last 16.
As part of their overall fine form, the north Londoners have won their last nine matches all told at home, scoring at least two goals on each occasion.
Arteta has opted to field mixed sides throughout the early group games so far, often resisting the urge to chop and change completely, despite their full-throttle start in the Premier League.
The likes of key first-teamers Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Ben White have all featured regularly in the long-winded competition and Arteta has been rewarded for going strong at times as his side have so far beaten Zurich 2-1 away, before home (3-0) and away (1-0) successes over Bodo/Glimt have followed.
With this match looking like being crucial to the overall outcome of the group, it's likely the Spaniard will again select a largely first-choice side, although the weekend Premier League clash at Southampton may also enter his thinking as he ponders his options.
PSV represent their toughest opponents in the group, however, so the Gunners will need to be wary of the Eredivisie side, who have hit 11 goals from their three matches, racking up 5-0 and 5-1 wins home and away over Zurich after an initial disappointing 1-1 home draw against Bodo/Glimt.
Eindhoven approach the game in fine fettle overall, too, as they sit second in the Dutch top flight, just a point behind Ajax, they're on a four-game winning streak in all competitions - a run during which they have scored 17 goals and conceded just twice.
Ruud van Nistelrooy's side hammered Utrecht 6-1 at the weekend and have several players in, worryingly for Arsenal, outstanding form.
Highly-rated winger Cody Gakpo, who has attracted the attention of plenty of Premier League clubs recently, has 12 goals and nine assists in all games so far this term, Xavi Simons has hit nine goals in all comps, while Guus Til and Joey Veerman have both weighed in with four goals.
Former Aston Villa man Anwar El Ghazi has struck three times, including two at the weekend, so the PSV squad will not be lacking in confidence for the trip to the Emirates.
However, despite the visitors' fine form and solid European experience, the odds reflect the fact Arsenal are in great shape at the moment.
A home win is 1/2, the draw is a somewhat tempting 7/2 and PSV are 5/1 to come away with a win and be only the second team this season to stop the Gunners from winning.
Considering both teams will be brimming with confidence and are clearly not lacking for goals, a home win and both teams to score appeals at 7/4 for punters looking for more value.
Meanwhile, backing 23-year-old Gakpo to net for Van Nistelrooy's men on the night seems a wise selection at 11/4, as he looks to shine on English soil.Safer Gambling Week (17-23 October) – Let’s talk about safer gambling. Click here for more information on independent resources. Gamble Responsibly.