Mikel Areta has discussed the threat of a ‘dangerous’ PSV Eindhoven side as Arsenal prepare to take on the Dutch side this evening.
Arsenal welcome PSV to north London and can ensure their place in the Europa League’s knockout rounds with a win. The Gunners top the group after three wins from three games, two points ahead of their Dutch visitors.
A win for Arsenal would put the Gunners in pole position to top the group, but Arteta is wary of the threat posed by a PSV side who have impressed under Ruud van Nistelrooy this season.
“I think it’s a really good team,” Arteta told his pre-match press conference.
“I think what Ruud has done with his team, the way they play, you just see the amount of goals they are scoring in their domestic league, the way they are performing in the Europa League as well, they are a really dangerous team.”
Arteta discussed the reception Van Nistelrooy could receive in north London, with the Dutchman having been a defining figure in the Arsenal-Manchester United rivalry of the early 2000s.
“I don’t know, obviously it’s a long way back. I wasn’t involved at the club at the time. You can tell the history of these two clubs and the rivalry that was generated at the time because they are two exceptional teams, but I don’t know.
Van Nistelrooy scored 150 goals in 215 appearances for the Red Devils, who competed fiercely for major honours with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side.
The Dutchman was central to an infamous moment in the rivalry, as his last-minute penalty miss in September 2003 sparked an on-pitch melee, with Martin Keown one of several players sanctioned after zealous celebrations in Van Nistelrooy’s face. The miss saw the game end 0-0, with Arsenal going on to complete a historic unbeaten campaign.
“I expect a warm welcome,” Van Nistelrooy said at his own press conference. “I kept them invincible because of my miss.”
“I didn’t react to what happened after the miss because of the incredible disappointment I felt at not bringing the win for my club. The pressure was intense for both teams because you are competing for the Premier League and it’s possible it will be decided in those games.
“It’s 20 years ago now. It doesn’t define me but coming back to England and to Arsenal, memories come back of my time there and those two infamous games are part of it.
“Years later, it is great to look back and have a laugh. But I always think my time in England was five years not two games. I was able to win fantastic titles with United. Those two games were part of a very famous period working under Sir Alex [Ferguson] and playing with so many fantastic players.
“I don’t think I will get a good reception but that is good. It is part of the banter in football stadiums.”