WHEN a team wins so convincingly, scoring five, you would expect that team’s centre forward to have been among the goals.
So, when Arsenal did exactly that against Nottingham Forest, and Gabriel Jesus failed to score for the seventh successive match in which he featured, some may question the Brazilian’s form or his role.
The goals will come back for Gabriel JesusCredit: Getty
However, even now, two games on having beaten Chelsea and still without a goal, I would suggest those who do criticise might not be Arsenal supporters.
I am concerned that Jesus is not scoring of late, but that is a concern for the player himself and not for my team.
I am anxious for Jesus purely because I can see that the man himself is concerned at not scoring.
His facial expressions and body language when he has failed to convert chances lately, he himself expect to take, do worry me.
He seems to be putting pressure on himself as a main striker to score for his team and perhaps this self-imposed burden is beginning to cause him to snatch at chances.
In pre-season and in the opening games the words that would come to mind when watching him score were ‘natural’ and ‘relaxed’.
I feel at this point, as I am sure it is the case, that Mikel Arteta needs to talk to the player, confirming that he should not feel individual pressure to score in every match, to relax and play his natural game.
Because without individual goals Jesus’ natural game raises this team and the level of his teammates.
Jesus is so much more to this Arsenal than a goal scorer and every Gooner knew this within the first few matches.
Against Forest, our No.9 touched the ball an incredible 76 times and only 16 of those touches were in the penalty area. In addition, he attempted more tackles in the 90 minutes than any other Arsenal player.
In short the ex-Man City man is everywhere playing with such effervescence and purpose that he is improving the level of EVERY player in a red shirt.
His pure energy and enthusiasm for the press, has enabled Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, Granit Xhaka and Bukayo Saka to join him and make Arsenal’s press so much more effective than it was last season with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette.
If even one player is not pressing consistently and at the right moments it can let down the team and make it a weakness rather than a strength and I think we have seen that at Liverpool this season after they lost Sadio Mane.
Jesus’ pure skill with ball at feet and particularly in the penalty box not only terrifies defenders but creates space and opportunities for others.
He is so good in these tight spaces that he will virtually always draw more than one defender to him, which leaves another Arsenal attacker unmarked. Martinelli is a main beneficiary.
Jesus footballing intelligence results in him making runs purely to draw defenders out of position. He is such a team player that he will often do this even if that run takes him away from the position where he might score.
Jesus is all about the team – not about individual glory. It’s why Pep Guardiola often selected him in the really big games and also why his personal goal return has seldom been better than one in three.
The real statistic to look at is the number of goals Arsenal are scoring this season with him in the team, compared to last season.
After 13 Premier League fixtures this season the club with Jesus sit top and have scored 31 goals. At the same point in 21/22 Arteta’s side had only netted a meagre 15 times.
Of course, Jesus’ unselfish, all-action, creative contribution every week will see him gain more assists than most main strikers.
Gabriel Jesus works incredibly hard and the whole team is benefitingCredit: AFP
He currently sits behind only Kevin De Bruyne and Saka in the assist table but for those that watch him every week in the flesh his crucial goal involvements are far more than the five direct assists.
If Arsenal do continue to progress and perhaps win silverware the telling stat at the end of the campaign will be that Arsenal have three or four players into double figures, and not 25 in 30 from their centre forward.
Jesus is making his colleagues better and setting higher standards for this Arsenal squad.
I sense very strongly this is why Arteta wanted not only this type of forward but this one in particular. Our manager knew what he was investing the club’s money in when he bought Jesus.
And this fan’s message to the Jesus is: Relax on the personal scoring front as the goals will come again without a shadow of a doubt.
Yesterday we discovered that the Brazil manager feels the same!
Gabriel Jesus is on the way to Qatar for the World CupCredit: Reuters
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