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How Gabriel Jesus’ Presence Is Transforming Arsenal
Arsenal agonisingly missed out on Champions League qualification last season by a mere two points, meaning that for now for six consecutive seasons, the Gunners will not be playing in Europe’s premier competition.
Although there were a few reasons why Mikel Arteta’s side were ultimately unable to qualify, one of the main reasons why was their lack of a clinical, top-class striker. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had departed for Barcelona in January following a spell of poor form and internal concerns about the Gabonese striker’s attitude and conduct, meaning that Arteta was left with just Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.
The pair were both considered not good enough to lead the line though, with Nketiah thought of as not good enough and Lacazette’s departure had been imminent, with the Frenchman into the last year of his contract and his goal contributions had been waning year-on-year.
These factors left the goalscoring burden on the shoulders of younger players like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe, who although supremely talented footballers, should not be relied on as the main goalscorers at such a young age for a club like Arsenal.
This all led to Arsenal making a move for Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, with a £45m bid enough to tempt Pep Guardiola to sell the Brazilian. And after an impressive pre-season that saw him score seven times, Jesus has carried that form into the new league season, with the Brazilian registering two goals and two assists in two league appearances so far.
Premier League Specials 2022/23
JESUS TO MAKE 30+ PL GOAL CONTRIBUTIONS (GOALS AND ASSISTS) @ 7/2
The first question posed by many after the announcement of the Brazilian signing is whether or not he is not an upgrade on what Arsenal had previously.
On paper, Jesus is a better striker – he has scored some key goals during his time at Man City and has won many trophies, whereas Lacazette won just the FA Cup at Arsenal and was often criticised for his lack of goal contributions during his later years with the Gunners. But statistically, it is slightly questionable whether or not Jesus actually seriously improves Arsenal.
Both the Brazilian’s and Lacazette’s highest-scoring seasons in the Premier League see the pair both on 14 goals – Jesus in the 2019/20 season, and Lacazette in his first season at Arsenal (2017/18). However, it is important to note that Lacazette scored his 14 in 26 starts, whereas Jesus managed to do his in 5 fewer appearances.
Overall, Lacazette has hit double digits in the Premier League more times than Jesus despite playing in a much weaker team, which is not good reading for Jesus. And Lacazette also beats Jesus in other metrics such as distance covered, aerial battles and tackles won and missing fewer big chances in the league.
But in comparing both their respective times in the Premier League, there again is a slight difference between the two – both of them have scored more than 50 Premier League goals (Jesus with 60 and Lacazette with 54), but Jesus has overall more goal contributions due to his higher number of assists – 31 to Lacazette’s 25. So in 161 Premier League appearances, Jesus has 91 goal contributions, whereas the now departed Frenchman has 79 in 158.
Overall, Jesus has 12 more goal involvements in 836 minutes less than Lacazette. So, while both are relatively Ok goalscorers, Jesus is a better playmaker and contributes more to his side in terms of creating chances for teammates. And he has shown his impact so far this season, with two goals and assists in two appearances – already, that goal tally is half of what Lacazette managed to score last season.
In his recent post-match interview after the 4-2 win over Leicester, Mikel Arteta went on to describe how “Jesus was disappointed in the dressing room because he said he should have scored four”.
To further show how impressive Jesus was on Saturday against Leicester, he won three ground and aerial duels, made two successful dribbles and had three shots on target by half-time, which he added to by having the most touches in the opposition box and the most take-ons completed as well by full-time.
Gabriel Jesus is a slightly better goalscorer and creator than Lacazette, as well as already showing that he offers more than Lacazette in terms of intensity and pressing from the front – he helps to lead his team’s press and win the ball back. Pep Guardiola has previously remarked on this, once saying “ when we need runners and players that help a lot with our high intensity and high pressing, Jesus is the best in the world”.
With the likes of Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard supplying the former Palmeiras man from wide and central areas, Jesus could go on to smash not only Lacazette’s, but his own personal goalscoring tally. Jesus overshadows Lacazette in terms of what he can give to the team, and this makes him a definite upgrade.
Premier League Specials 2022/23
HAALAND AND JESUS EACH TO SCORE 20+ LEAGUE GOALS, NUNEZ AND SON EACH TO SCORE 15+ LEAGUE GOALS & LINGARD AND SCAMACCA EACH TO SCORE 5+ LEAGUE GOALS @ 5/1
One question mark over Jesus is the fact that, despite playing for one of the most dominant club sides in the history of English football and having players like Kevin de Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling consistently creating chances for him, he has never really cemented himself as an elite goalscorer.
Previously, Jesus has only scored more than 10 league goals twice, despite making more than 25 appearances in all but one of his seasons in England. But this could be explained by the fact that Jesus was mostly reduced to substitute appearances (60) under Pep Guardiola, and when he did start, he was often pushed out wide due to the presence of Sergio Aguero. But he has still managed to retain a relatively healthy goalscoring tally – 60 goals in 161 appearances coming mostly as a substitute is quite impressive.
Arsenal scored 38 goals less than Manchester City, 33 fewer than Liverpool and 15 less than Chelsea last season – but finally being given a starting XI berth and having players like Odegaard, Saka and Smith-Rowe ready to supply him, then it is likely that Jesus will have a great season.
But, will he provide enough goals? Being given leading man status and some of the league’s best young players supplying him is a good sign that Jesus will have a good season, and based on his fantastic performances against Crystal Palace and Leicester already, we feel that Gabriel Jesus will surely surpass his previous career-best goal tally this season.
Jesus should score between 14-18 league goals this campaign – Arsenal are a side still undergoing surgery and still need a few players so we can’t see them challenging Manchester City or Liverpool, but with Jesus’ general form and the other players that Arsenal have, we can see him bagging a very respectable double-digit tally.
Premier League Specials 2022/23
ARSENAL TO FINISH IN TOP 4, NEWCASTLE TO FINISH IN TOP HALF, EVERTON TO FINISH IN BOTTOM HALF, BOURNEMOUTH TO BE RELEGATED & CHELSEA TO FINISH OUTSIDE TOP 4 @ 7/1
Despite an inconsistent 2021/22 season in which Arteta’s men suffered 13 losses yet picked up some impressive wins, Arsenal failed to make the top four.
They ultimately finished fifth on 69 points, just two points behind their rivals Tottenham who took the final spot. But the signing of Jesus gives them something new, and it will certainly help in their fight for the top four.
Whenever Jesus scores a goal then it bodes well for his team – he has never lost a Premier League match in which he has scored in (45 wins and three draws in 48 matches). If he stays fit, and the supply from the likes of Saka and Martinelli keeps coming, then we can see Arsenal certainly making it into the top 4 this season.
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