Tierney, Nketiah and Holding all shine as Arsenal show they have strength in depth to challenge for Prem and Europe

    ONE of the main caveats to the idea of an Arsenal title challenge is a lack of depth.

    Many feel if the likes of William Saliba, Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus get injured then their tilt at top spot will fall away.

    Tierney was always an outlet going forward down the left


    Tierney was always an outlet going forward down the leftCredit: Getty
    Nketiah caused PSV problems with his pace and trickery


    Nketiah caused PSV problems with his pace and trickeryCredit: Getty

    But Mikel Arteta made six changes for the Europa League clash with PSV this evening – and you wouldn’t really have known it.

    Jesus and Bukayo Saka were brilliant as ever, offering the energy and dynamism that has typified the Gunners so far this season.

    But those who came in proved the North London outfit are much more than just a brilliant XI.

    Takehiro Tomiyasu is much more than an understudy to Ben White – and if the ex-Brighton man shows any sign of weakness then Arteta will not hesitate to switch things up.

    PSV build-up, Martinelli contract talks, 'Ukrainian Messi' to cost £57million
    Win a Range Rover + £1k or £34k cash alternative from just 89p with our discount code

    The Japanese international, 23, has a great understanding with Saka and, as a more natural right-back, relentlessly provides the overlapping run which opens up more space inside for Arsenal’s more creative stars.

    It can also lead to goals – as was the case when he set up the winner for Granit Xhaka.

    The same can be said for Kieran Tierney on the other side.

    Oleksandr Zinchenko’s arrival has somewhat harshly pushed the Scot out of Arsenal’s starting line-up.

    Most read in Football


    However, he remains a top class left-back with an engine that won’t quit.

    There were times against PSV when you would have been forgiven for thinking he was a wingback or even a forward player, such was his attacking output.

    And he was joined on that side by Eddie Nketiah who showed he is willing to be versatile and play on the flank – with Jesus clearly the preferred option through the middle.

    He showed great energy in the first half and almost netted the winner with a blistering effort that whistled wide.

    Rob Holding was another change Arteta made as he came in for the revelation that is Saliba.

    And it would have been easy for Gunners supporters to moan about the drop off in quality – but that simply was not the case.

    Holding is an underrated, composed, measured centre-half whose sensibility and rather basic nature make him an overlooked cog in the wheel.

    It would be easy for his head to drop after just 11 minutes of league football this term, but his ever-presence in the Europa League should mean he remains motivated for the foreseeable future.

    Albert Sambi Lokonga had a solid game in midfield – a major plus for Arteta who will be fearful about the injury-prone Thomas Partey as the campaign goes on.

    The one slight disappointment was Fabio Vieira who drifted out of the match for large periods.

    He was a noticeable downgrade from Odegaard, so a fitness issue for the Norwegian could well prove to be an issue.

    But on the whole it was a night in which Arteta showcased the full strength of his squad.

    Boris 'considering' unlikely bid to replace Truss as PM
    We bought our three-bedroom home for £1 and now it's worth £90k

    Arsenal have seven games in 20 days between now and the World Cup break, but they are showing that may not present any problems.

    Manchester City – take note.

    Holding was incredibly comfortable all evening at the heart of the Arsenal defence


    Holding was incredibly comfortable all evening at the heart of the Arsenal defenceCredit: Getty


    Previous article‘You have to be able to do that’ – Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta dismisses concerns over Bukayo Saka’s game time despite injury
    Next articleCristiano Ronaldo breaks silence after being axed from Manchester United squad following tunnel incident