PSV Eindhoven have started to up the ante ahead of Thursday’s Europa League game with Arsenal, with a pre-match tweet prompting a backlash from Gunners fans.
The two teams finally go head-to-head at the Emirates in a game that had to be postponed after the death of Queen Elizabeth II at the start of last month.
Arsenal had originally been scheduled to play Manchester City this week – with nine other Premier League games taking place across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – but that match will now be played at a later date in order to allow the London side to fulfil their European commitments.
Thursday’s face-off is the start of a decisive double header which is likely to determine who wins Group A – and thus avoids facing a Champions League drop-out in the play-offs next February.
Arsenal currently top the table with three wins and nine points, but positive results for PSV over the next few days – with Arsenal travelling to Eindhoven next week – could see the Dutch team take control of Group A.
Ahead of that first clash on Thursday evening, PSV’s Twitter account decided to begin ramping things up with a loaded tweet.
The Dutch side uploaded a photo of youngster Xavi Simons – who has eight goals in 10 Eredivisie games this season – doing a familiar celebration, alongside the caption: ‘Calling Arsenal. Is Gabriel Jesus at home?’
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Arsenal fans did not seem to take too kindly to the goading, with PSV’s Twitter account flooded with messages from Gunners supporters suggesting they might regret the post – especially if Mikel Arteta uses it as motivation like he did with a tweet from Ivan Toney last campaign.
‘You don’t want to make that call bro,’ wrote one fan in response to PSV’s post, while others said Jesus – who has not started in the Europa League this campaign – would likely be rested but ‘Eddie Nketiah can pick up your call instead’.
Jesus has made two brief cameos off the bench against FC Zurich and Bodo/Glimt, while Nketiah has started all three group games, netting twice and providing one assist.
On Wednesday morning, meanwhile, PSV announced their squad list for the game with three previously injured players all now available for selection.
The Dutch side have been without Luuk de Jong, Mauro Junior and Madueke – formerly of Tottenham – in recent months but all three are on the plane to London, with Ruud van Nistelrooy’s players training at the Emirates today.