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Does Gabriel Jesus’ goal drought matter?

Jesus Celebrating

Happy Jesus earlier in the campaign.

When a team wins so convincingly, scoring 5, 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 7th successive match in which he featured, some in the media may have been questioning the Brazilian’s form, or indeed his role. However, even now, 2 games on and still without a goal, I would politely suggest those doing so might not be Arsenal supporters. As one of that group, I am concerned that Jesus is not scoring of late, but that is a concern for the man himself and not for the team.

I am anxious for Gabriel Jesus purely because I can see that he is worried by not scoring. His facial expressions and body language when he has failed to convert chances lately, he himself expects to take, are concerning. 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.

Concerned

Personal pressure

Whereas 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 Arteta needs to be talking to the player, confirming that he should not feel individual pressure to score 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.

However, and it is a big however, Gabriel Jesus is so much more to this Arsenal than a goal scorer and every Gooner knew this within the first few matches. Against Forest, Jesus 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, our Brazilian striker, is everywhere, playing with such effervescence and purpose that he is improving the level of EVERY player in red and white and in so many ways.

0 Gabriel-Jesus

Everything but score v Forest

His pure energy and enthusiasm for the press, has enabled Martinelli, Odegaard, Xhaka and Saka to join him and make Arsenal’s press so much more effective than it was last season with Aubameyang or 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 perhaps we have seen that at Liverpool this season after losing Mane.

His 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, by definition leaves another Arsenal attacker unmarked. Martinelli is a main beneficiary with Jesus often finding himself of the left, leaving his young compatriot free to find space in threatening areas.

Arsenal’s number 9’s footballing intelligence also allows him to make runs purely to draw defenders out of position, making space for teammates. He is such a team player that he will often do this even if that run takes him away from the position where he himself might score. Gabriel Jesus is all about the team and 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 1 in 3.

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 Arsenal with Jesus sit top and have scored 31 goals. At the same point in 21/12 Arteta’s side had only netted a meagre 15 times.

Jesus Saka Martinelli

Making those around him better

Of course, Jesus’ unselfish, all-action, creative contribution every week will see him gain more assists than most main strikers. Indeed, he currently sits only behind Kevin de Bruyne and our own Bukayo Saka in the assist table. However, for those that watch him every week in the flesh his crucial goal involvements are far more than the 5 direct assists. Indeed, if Arsenal do continue to progress and perhaps win silverware, the telling stat at the end of the campaign may well be that Arsenal have 3 or 4 players well into double figures, and not a 25/30 from their centre forward.

The simple fact is that Gabriel Jesus is making his colleagues better and setting higher standards for this Arsenal team. I sense very strongly this is why Mikel Arteta wanted not only this style of centre 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 player is, relax on the personal scoring front as the goals will come again without a shadow of a doubt.

This week we discovered that the Brazil manager feels the same!

Please note this is an adapted version of an article written for my Sun Fan’s View Column last week, which was not published until yesterday

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2 Responses to Does Gabriel Jesus’ goal drought matter?

  1. Philly the kid November 9, 2022 at 10:55 am #

    Tbf, I wonder whether a large part of the reason for him not looking so relaxed when pulling the trigger was because he was left out of the last Brazil squad?
    Now he’s been called up for the WC, I can imaging Wolves will see him score his next goal. And, I bet it’ll be a worldie too!

    • Dave Seager November 9, 2022 at 11:02 am #

      Great point

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