Hiddink's lesson in how to blunt Arsenal rapier

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The videotape of Arsenal's Champions' League victory over PSV Eindhoven may become required viewing for coaches around Europe - and maybe even some in the Premiership - in the next few months.

The videotape of Arsenal's Champions' League victory over PSV Eindhoven may become required viewing for coaches around Europe - and maybe even some in the Premiership - in the next few months.

It was an object lesson in how to deploy a limited team, PSV, so that they nullify a vastly superior, vastly more talented and exciting opponent, Arsenal. It almost worked and may well have done so if the side who are lying second in the Dutch league had not lost both Mateja Kezman and Arjen Robben to Chelsea in the summer.

It is no little surprise that the man who marshalled the plan was Guus Hiddink, the highly experienced Dutch coach, in his second spell at PSV, after leading South Korea to the semi-finals of the last World Cup.

He was certainly pleased with himself on Tuesday evening despite the 1-0 defeat at Highbury. "We came to frustrate them," he said before discussing what may well be the most effective way of combating Arsenal. "When you give them too much space, they play on the counter-attack. We were very organised defensively."

That meant playing with three holding midfielders in Phillip Cocu, Johann Vogel and Mark van Bommel, one robust striker, tasked with simply being physical, and full-backs whose goal was to occupy Arsenal's own. After that it was simply about retaining the ball, fighting for possession and defending deep to deny space.

In the end an own goal by Alex, after great trickery by Thierry Henry, was their undoing. But they almost snatched a late equaliser against a side which has stormed the Premiership with five wins and an average of close to four goals a game. But Arsenal did win and in victory there were signs that they too are learning.

The match contrasted sharply with the traumatic 3-0 defeat to Internazionale that opened last season's Champions' League campaign. Then Arsenal simply lost patience and discipline after failing to break down the Italians in the first 30 minutes. That result was certainly exercising the mind of Arsène Wenger and his players.

"We showed great maturity and we kept our organisation," Patrick Vieira said. "We stayed patient and we passed the ball around. Yes, we have grown up as a team. We didn't panic. We try to win every game and I would be happy if we scored three or four goals but it doesn't always happen like that. Sometimes we have to be more clever."

Henry concurred with his captain's assessment. "We like to go forward but you cannot always do that," he said. "We know we can score but we need the ball to do that. Sometimes you just have to win this type of game."

Arsenal certainly will have greater freedom in their next two Group E matches, away to both Rosenborg and Panathinaikos. Then they can counter. However, their performance - and that of PSV - raises the question, once more, of how they will fare against the best organised sides. Indeed, their Premiership meeting against Jose Mourinho's Chelsea on 12 December has just become even more tantalising.

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