PSV vs Arsenal first scorer: Wonderkids to watch in Dutch dead rubber

Albeit slightly anticlimactically, Arsenal’s first Champions League group stage since 2016 will end as well as Mikel Arteta could have wished. Matchday six sees the already-group winning Gunners travel to Eindhoven for a dead rubber in which several key men will surely be rested.

Arsenal's 12-point tally is unassailable, while PSV are a comfortable second with eight points. With their superior head-to-head against Lens, they are guaranteed second place. As such, both sides are expected to rotate heavily. PSV have won an astonishing 15/15 games in the Eredivisie and are juggling a few injuries, so Peter Bosz will likely rotate his side.

Mikel Arteta will be keen to take the burden off his key men and may give debuts to players from Arsenal’s famed Hale End academy. In particular, there is great buzz about Ethan Nwaneri, who last season became the youngest ever Premier League player.

Nwaneri has reportedly travelled to Eindhoven, along with left back Lino Sousa and right-sided defender Ruell Walters.

Arsenal's Kai Havertz UCL
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PSV vs Arsenal first scorer – Our picks

Luuk de Jong – 6/1

For all the promise of a young gem emerging from nowhere, experienced Dutchman de Jong is still favourite to net the opener. De Jong has 17 goals already this season, and also scored against Arsenal in last season’s Europa League instalment of this fixture, when the Dutch side ran out 2-0 winners.

Ricardo Pepi – 13/2

American youngster Ricardo Pepi is the bookies’ favourite aged under 21 to score the opener. The 20-year-old scored the winner in Seville to secure qualification for PSV. The versatile forward has largely played second-fiddle to de Jong this season, but has made an impact when given the chance, having scored a goal every 49 Eredivisie minutes played this season.

Pepi will be keen to prove his European mettle against a European elite, and looks settled in Europe after a tricky spell at Augsburg following his move from MLS.

Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah
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Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus – 15/2

Returning to more experienced forwards, Nketiah will likely start this one in hope of scoring his first ever Champions League goal. Jesus will likely be rested, but if he starts, he is near-certain to score. The Brazilian has been in electric form on the continent this term, with four goals in as many appearances.

Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli – 9/1

It can be easy to forget that Arsenal’s flying wingers are both just 22, such is their quality and productivity. Both will likely be rested, but like Jesus, have been in superb form in Europe.

Malik Tillman – 10/1

Another American youngster PSV picked up in Germany was powerful attacking midfielder Malik Tillman. The 21-year-old has had to be patient this season, like his compatriot Pepi, but has also made good on his chances. He's been scoring a goal every 91 minutes – a remarkable scoring rate.

Tillman is on loan from Bayern Munich, and will be desperate to show his parent club that he is a serious talent against the Gunners.

Johan Bakayoko of PSV
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Johan Bakayoko – 11/1

PSV suffered a real exodus of wingers in 2023. Talisman Cody Gakpo, wonderkid Xavi Simons and Noni Madueke all left the club. In their wake, 20-year-old Belgian winger Johan Bakayoko has stepped up.

The tricky youngster has largely been a provider this season, with 11 assists already, but still has an eye for goal, memorably netting the crucial equaliser away to Lens. Bakayoko will be eager to show Europe’s best what he is capable of and maybe earn himself a big move in the near future.

Ethan Nwaneri – 14/1

Finally, 16-year-old Ethan Nwaneri may have the chance to make his first ever start for Arsenal, and build on what has been a fairytale start to his fledgling career. As mentioned earlier, he is already the youngest ever player in the Premier League.

Back on Sunday, however, he scored five times as Arsenal began their U18 FA Youth Cup campaign in riotous fashion. He can play as a midfielder, striker or winger, and has four goals in four Premier League 2 appearances.

If Nwaneri were to net the opener against PSV, his star would rise even faster.

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William Evans

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.