Gabriel Jesus: Arsenal striker’s return softens the blow of grueling Europa League exit and propels Gunners into title race -Dlight News

Gabriel Jesus has returned from the knee injury he suffered at the World Cup

The announcement of his name in the Arsenal starting line-up was met with roars around the Emirates Stadium. Once the action started, all it took was the ball whizzing past him for a buzz of anticipation to crackle through the stands.

The mood was of course different at the end. Arsenal’s elimination from the Europa League, or, more specifically, the way of doing it, on penalties against Sporting Lisbon after a tough game in which they lost Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba to injury, was far from ideal.

But the return of Gabriel Jesus may prove instrumental in pushing them to the limit in the Premier League title race. This was his first start for Arsenal since November following his return from a knee injury. His performance suggests that he can start running.

The clues were there even in his brief appearance as a substitute in the win over Fulham four days earlier. Mikel Arteta had spoken of the Brazilian needing “a little more time” after his return to training, but he looked like a man in a hurry at Craven Cottage.

That was clear in the intensity of his display, pulling defenders out of position, sliding into midfield to link the play and diligently dropping back, at one point winning the ball from Fulham midfielder Harrison Reed near the Arsenal box.

At the same time, there was a lot of threat in the last third.

His cameo lasted just 13 minutes, but included a nice reverse pass to put Reiss Nelson in on goal and a chance of his own, made possible by his clever move to Fabio Vieira near the halfway line, which required a clever one-on-one. a save by Bernd Leno.

In the end, Premier League tracking data showed he had registered seven high-intensity sprints, a higher total than five of Arsenal’s 10 outfield starters managed and a measure of his determination to make things happen.

Arteta saw enough to use him from the start against Sporting and, although his appearance was briefer than it could have been, the striker substituted for Leandro Trossard at half-time as Arsenal managed their changes after the forced casualties of Tomiyasu and Saliba, their input was again encouraging.

As against Fulham, and as he did effectively in the early months of the season, Jesus could be seen appearing on the front row, swapping positions with the teammates around him and playing a central role in many of the parties The best moments of the hosts.

In the 16th minute, a well-timed run at the far post to meet a wicked cross from Nelson who couldn’t quite deflect on goal. At the half hour mark, a slalom dribble through a crowd of Sporting players followed by a low shot that was brilliantly saved by Adan.

However, perhaps the best evidence of his impact came in the way that Arsenal’s attacking pleasure waned after his retirement.

Trossard was outstanding against Fulham, assisting all three of Arsenal’s goals that started as false nines, but Sporting’s defenders found him much easier to handle than Jesus.

In fact, the hosts did not make a significant threat again until the second half of extra time, once Arteta had added Martin Odegaard to the fray and Sporting had begun to tire.

Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka face the referee against Sporting Lisbon
Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka face the referee against Sporting Lisbon

Ultimately, Jesus’ contribution was not the story of the night, the post-match fallout dominated by the disappointing result and injuries that could leave Arsenal light on defence, but it was a reminder nonetheless of his power to elevate the team

His teammates deserve immense credit for maintaining Arsenal’s position at the top of the Premier League table in his absence, but it was he, more than any other player, who set the wheels in motion for everything that followed. at the beginning of the season. season.

In all competitions, Arsenal have emerged victorious from 14 of the 17 games Jesus has started, giving them a win rate of 82 per cent, compared to 62 per cent in games they have not played.

Injuries to Tomiyasu and Saliba may now test Arsenal’s defensive depth but, at the other end of the pitch, if the return of Jesus isn’t tempting enough in itself, it’s even more so for the number of attacking players with the ones you can potentially combine.

Arsenal have won 14 of the 17 games that Gabriel Jesus has started
Arsenal have won 14 of the 17 games that Gabriel Jesus has started

Arteta spoke of how Jesus had made Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka better in the first half of the campaign, but now there’s Trossard as well, as well as an in-form Emile Smith Rowe, an established Vieira, plus Nelson, and another centre-forward in Eddie. Nketiah, who will be looking forward to getting back into shape.

Arteta described his national team headache at the top of the field as a “big problem” after the Fulham game and without the games a longer run in the Europa League would have brought, those players should be fresh and ready for the remaining 11 “finals.”, providing a variety of options to unlock the opposition’s defenses.

So, with Jesus back at the center of things, and with Arsenal’s focus narrowed to the competition that matters most as Manchester City continue to juggle their Champions League commitments, Arteta’s hope is that events in Emirates Stadium on Thursday night, painful as they are. Ultimately, it can be beneficial.

Follow live Arsenal vs Crystal Palace sky sports digital platforms on Sunday; start 2pm; Free highlights available shortly after full time

Source link