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Arsenal crush PSV on perfect Champions League return

Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard celebrates scoring against PSV. Photo: Adrian Dennis/ AFP

Arsenal made a dream return to the Champions League as Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard inspired a 4-0 demolition of PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday.

Back in Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in six years, Arsenal swept aside the overwhelmed Dutch league leaders to prove they can cope with the step up in class.

Mikel Arteta’s side ran riot in the first half at the Emirates Stadium, with Saka scoring his first goal in the competition before setting up Trossard to double the lead.

Trossard also went from scorer to provider as he laid on the third goal for Gabriel Jesus, with Martin Odegaard completing the rout after the break.

Arsenal’s previous game in the competition was in March 2017, when Bayern Munich completed a humiliating 10-2 aggregate victory in the last 16.

The Gunners are a far more formidable force now, despite their lack of Champions League experience, and should cruise through Group B, which also features Sevilla and Lens.

Arsenal are unbeaten with four wins from five in the Premier League as they aim to make amends for last season’s collapse in the title race.

But the chance to advance to the latter stages of the Champions League — a competition they have never won — is also a major incentive for Arteta’s men and they look up to the task on this evidence.

In his first match as a boss in the Champions League, Arteta was rewarded with another clean-sheet from David Raya, who kept his place after the on-loan Brentford keeper replaced Aaron Ramsdale for Sunday’s Premier League win at Everton.

Arteta had told his players to make “beautiful memories” on their Champions League return and the air of anticipation around the Emirates Stadium was palpable before kick-off.

Even the torrential rain couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Arsenal fans, who were so caught up in the occasion that they greeted the Champions League anthem with an ear-splitting roar.

Fever pitch

The incessant noise from the stands reached fever pitch after just eight minutes when Saka put Arsenal ahead.

Odegaard’s shot from the edge of the area was weakly pushed out by PSV keeper Walter Benitez and Saka alertly followed up to finish clinically from close-range.

It was raining goals in the downpour and the dynamic Saka’s incisive pass picked out Trossard, who dispatched a fine first-time finish past Benitez from the edge of the area in the 20th minute.

The Belgian forward has scored in two successive games after bagging the winner at Everton.

Having revealed this week that he often skipped school to watch Champions League matches on television as a child, Jesus’s boyhood passion for the tournament clearly hasn’t dimmed as he tore through the PSV defence time and again.

Benitez denied Jesus with his legs, then pushed away another fierce effort from the Brazilian.

Jesus scored 14 times in 22 Champions League appearances for Manchester City and he finally added to his tally after 38 minutes.

Trossard’s pin-point cross found Jesus, who punished PSV’s woeful marking as he slammed his shot into the far corner from eight yards.

It was the first time Arsenal had scored three goals in the first half of a Champions League tie since 2014 against Galatasaray.

With Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham in mind, Arteta made a raft of second half substitutions to protect his key players.

Encapsulating Arsenal’s perfect evening, Odegaard ensured the atmosphere didn’t go flat as he rifled a superb 20-yard strike past Benitez in the 70th minute.

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