Monday, October 2, 2023

PSV stir the pot ahead of Arsenal clash with risky social media message to Gabriel Jesus

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PSV Eindhoven have taken a huge gamble ahead of their game against Arsenal by publishing a rather brave social media post.

The Gunners welcome PSV to the Emirates on Thursday evening for a Europa League group game. The game is significant, as Mikel Arteta’s side will progress to the next round with a win, but three points for the Dutch side will see them go top of the table.

PSV decided to up the ante before the game by posting a picture of Xavi Simons copying Gabriel Jesus’ trademark telephone celebration. Simons, 19, joined PSV in the summer from Paris Saint-Germain and has since scored 10 goals in all competitions.

“Calling Arsenal,” read the tweet. “Is Gabriel Jesus at home?”

The tweet has annoyed Gunners fans, with many viewing it as disrespectful. It’s reminded many supporters of Ivan Toney’s “nice kick about with the boys” tweet after Arsenal’s defeat to Brentford in August 2021, which Arteta later used as motivation in a team talk.

Arsenal fans are now urging Arteta to use PSV’s tweet ahead of Thursday evening’s clash. Many would also like to see Jesus be selected and silence PSV by continuing his good form. The Brazilian has scored five goals in all competitions this season.

Tweets aside, Arteta will be worried about Simons. The PSV star is regarded as one of the best youngsters in Europe and will be keen to continue his scoring exploits to earn a move back to PSG. The Ligue 1 champions have a buy-back clause in his contract.

Arsenal would prefer to top their Europa League group, as there’s a big difference between finishing first and second. The winners progress to the last 16, while the runners-up go into the last 32 and face a challenging tie against a former Champions League side.

If the importance of the game and the tweet aren’t enough to motivate Arteta’s side, the prospect of facing Ruud van Nistelrooy will also help. The iconic Dutch striker is the manager of PSV and was a thorn in Arsenal’s side during his time at Manchester United.

The Gunners and United were the best two teams in England in the late nineties and early noughties. Van Nistelrooy endured many famous battles against Arsenal, including his penalty miss at Old Trafford in September 2003 that led to Arsene Wenger’s side going a Premier League season unbeaten and causing a scuffle on the pitch.

He was also the player to end Arsenal’s unbeaten league run after 49 games in October 2004 by, ironically, scoring a penalty in a 2-0 win at Old Trafford. “I expect a warm welcome,” Van Nistelrooy joked on Wednesday. “I kept them invincible because of my miss.”

PSV have picked up seven points from their first three Europa League fixtures this season. They’re currently second in the Eredivisie after winning eight of their first 10 league games, sitting one point behind champions Ajax.

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