‘It was a beautiful night after such a long time,’ said an emotional Mikel Arteta.
It was the perfect night too for Arsenal. Their return to the Champions League could hardly have gone better. A 4-0 win to kickstart proceedings in a group they will expect to top come December.
Seven years these fans had waited. 2,388 days since their last Champions League game - a 5-1 defeat at home to Bayern in Arsene Wenger’s penultimate season in charge.
They have had European football since and even reached the Europa League final in 2019 but frankly, this is a competition that hits differently.
Not least in these parts where they had 19 successive Champions League campaigns under Wenger between 1998-99 and 2016-17.
How long those years away from the famous Champions League anthem must have felt. The club even printed the lyrics to it in the match-day programme, just in case some had forgotten.
And when it hit, it felt like it always belonged. This was a night of emotion from when that music played to the final whistle. Arsenal’s intensity on the pitch was simply too much for a PSV side that had arrived in London, without a defeat this season.
‘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,’ Arteta admitted post-match.
Perhaps it was fitting that Bukayo Saka got Arsenal’s first Champions League goal under Arteta, eight minutes in. Twelve minutes later, Saka teed up Leandro Trossard to double the advantage.
There is little doubt about Saka’s quality but for the 22-year-old, this was his arrival on Europe’s premier stage. ‘Back where he belong’ tweeted Saka post-match. This is certainly where he belongs.
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