Mikel Arteta admitted to becoming emotional on a “beautiful night” as Arsenal marked their long-awaited Champions League return with a stylish 4-0 win against PSV Eindhoven at the Emirates Stadium.
In their first outing in this competition for six years, Arteta’s side put PSV to the sword in the first half, going in at the break 3-0 up after a ruthless show of attacking intent.
First Bukayo Saka reacted fastest to score on the rebound after Martin Odegaard’s long-range effort was parried by Walter Benitez in the PSV goal, before the England winger turned provider with a smart pull-back that was guided into the bottom corner by Leandro Trossard.
After 38 minutes the game was all but over as Gabriel Jesus took a touch inside the box and drilled an unstoppable drive into the far corner.
Odegaard added his team’s fourth when he shot low with his left foot past the goalkeeper with 20 minutes to play, as last season’s Eredivisie runners-up were outrun and outclassed by Arteta’s side, who were at their electric best in wet and difficult conditions in north London.
“It was a beautiful night after such a long time,” said Arteta.
“We wanted to produce the right performance to win the game. It was great to see the atmosphere and the Champions League music.
“Everyone was getting a bit emotional before it. We showed in both boxes today I think we were exceptional. That was the difference today, I think.
“I was (emotional), yeah. I was really excited about it. I wanted to control and not show that too much, but I was really excited
“The journey started last year when we earned the right to be in this competition which is where we have to be as a club. Now we have to produce what we have to produce to stay at this level.”
After watching his side struggle at times to break down opponents who have set up defensively against them in the Premier League this season, Arteta was particularly pleased with the way his attack effectively killed the contest off before the break, taking advantage of a more open game than they have been used to domestically.
“(It was) very good,” he said. “That’s what we have to do. That’s why I mentioned that in the box we were exceptional today, we were ruthless, we took our chances. (It) was top. And as well we could have done more. Probably as managers we are looking a bit more on that than any part.”
Amongst an array of standout performances for Arteta’s team, Kai Havertz enjoyed possibly the best display of his early Arsenal career.
There had been signs of frustration from home supporters towards the £65million summer signing during recent games at the Emirates, but he was instrumental in the team’s fluent attacking rhythm as he finally looked at home in an Arsenal shirt.
“Yeah, he was really connected today in the game,” said Arteta.
“It’s true I asked him to play two different roles in regards to the behaviours of the opponents and he’s so intelligent that he does it. It’s just finishing one or two actions that we had but it’s coming and he’s so willing to do it.”