Premier League

Gabriel Jesus Injury: Five Reasons Why Arsenal Will Miss Him

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It was the news Arsenal fans were dreading but the World Cup has claimed its first casualty in the form of a Gabriel Jesus injury. Arsenal has confirmed that the forward will be out for an extended period of time after having knee surgery. Gabriel Jesus’ injury was suffered in Brazil’s World Cup match against Cameroon, which ruled him out for the rest of the tournament. This is a huge loss for Arsenal with Gabriel Jesus starting the season in fine form having scored five goals and made five assists in his 14 Premier League matches so far.

It’s easy to outline that Gabriel Jesus will be missed in Arsenal’s attack given what he has contributed to the team so far but there are more layers to just the goals and assists. So with that being said here’s the Gabriel Jesus injury and five reasons why Arsenal will miss him.

Gabriel Jesus Injury: Fluid Positioning

The main reason that Arsenal will miss Gabriel Jesus is the Brazilian’s fluid positioning in attack. Jesus can play anywhere in the front four attacking positions which allows him to create space for other attackers to score goals. Jesus likes to drift out to the left-hand side the most, using his pace to take on defenders and produce deadly passes into central attacking positions. At the moment Arsenal haven’t got a player of Jesus’ quality that can drift fluidly in and out of attacking positions yet be as clinical as Jesus has.

This is something Mikel Arteta will have to think about when thinking about who could replace the Brazilian up front. It might means that the Spaniard opts to have Gabriel Martinelli up front in terms of fluid positioning as Martinelli is the player that can play the most positions out of the other strikers, yet possesses similar finishing qualities as well as pace. However it will be difficult to replace Jesus’s movement and tactical flexibility directly.

Gabriel Jesus Injury: Pressing and Tackling

Linking into fluid positioning, another reason why Arsenal will miss Jesus is his ability to press and force errors from the opposition. Arsenal are a pressing team and Jesus is essential to that with the Brazilian’s pace and positional awareness essential to forcing errors from the centre backs. Jesus’ pressing allows the likes of Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka to press higher up the pitch and give them the freedom to cut off the passing angles as well as suffocate the opposition. It also allows Oleksandr Zinchenko to control the midfield areas and gain possession as high up the pitch as possible.

However it’s not just the tempo that Jesus sets with his pressing that is vital for Arsenal, it is also Jesus’ tackling that sets the tone for Arsenal’s proactive aggressiveness of the ball. According to ‘one-versus-one’, Jesus is the best player in the Premier League when it comes to tackles in the opposition half having made 54 tackles in the opposition half, with Brentford’s Ivan Toney just behind him. This allows Arsenal to overturn possession quickly and set up effective and efficient counter-attacks in the wide areas.

This aggression and off-the-ball pressure will be something that Arsenal will desperately miss and that role may have to be filled by Bukayo Saka who is third on the list of tackles in the opposition half. Either way Jesus sets the tone from the front of the pitch and Arsenal will need to find a replacement who possesses similar qualities.

Gabriel Jesus Injury: Goal-scoring Form and Assists.  

An easy thing to point out but Arsenal will miss Jesus’ overall goal-scoring form and efficiency in front of goal. Although Jesus hadn’t quite found the back of the net towards the end of the first half of the season, the Brazilian has still scored five goals from an expected goals rate of 7.7 according to FBREF. Jesus’ threat from one on one situations as well as his movement from inside the penalty area has meant that he has that pace and precision to score any type of goal which is what Mikel Arteta’s side will miss the most.

Furthermore, Jesus has also created a lot of chances for his team mates with Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard scoring a combined total of 15 goals. The Brazilian has been clinical when creating for his team mates out achieving his expected assists rate of 2.8 by creating five assists according to FBREF. Jesus’ movement and clinical final pass will be something that Arsenal will need to find a solution to quickly if they want to challenge for the title.

Again putting Gabriel Martinelli or Martin Odegaard up front may be one potential solution but they are certainly not going to produce the same efficiency as Gabriel Jesus has so far this season.

Gabriel Jesus Injury: Experience

One factor that Jesus brings to the table that statistics cannot provide is experience and that winning mentality that the 25 year-old has brought. Having won multiple Premier League titles so far, Jesus knows what it takes to go all the way and win the biggest prize in England and he has been a big part of Arsenal’s cultural reset so far.

That mentality and eagerness to create goal-scoring chances will be missed and it will up to the likes of Granit Xhaka and Oleksandr Zinchenko to bring that winning mentality and presence to the pitch now that Jesus is absent.

Gabriel Jesus Injury: Physicality/Presence

The final and arguably one of the most important reasons why Arsenal will miss Jesus is the Brazilian’s physical presence up front. Jesus’ build-up play and ability to hold up play and wait for his fellow attackers to arrive in promising positions is something that Arsenal have missed for a long time. That means that even against some of the more physical teams in the league, Jesus has the edge to shrug off challenges and continue to produce quality passes and win areal duels in attacking positions.

This is something that cannot be replaced straight away with the likes of Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah lacking those physical attributes. One of the main criticisms of Arsenal in the last few years is what happens when the team loses their physical spine and how badly they have reacted to key injuries in the past. This will be once again tested as Jesus is the spine of the attack in a physical and mental sense and how the players react to that loss will determine the entirety of Arsenal’s season.

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