It has been an excellent start to life at Arsenal for Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian delivered a very good opening day performance against Crystal Palace without getting a goal or assist. However, he showed his quality in the final third on Saturday. He created a lot of problems for Leicester City and a lot of Arsenal’s attacks went through their new signing. It looks like he has been at the club for years, as he has slotted in seamlessly at the Emirates Stadium.
Jesus is a complete centre forward. He is capable of getting into goal-scoring positions himself, but he isn’t a selfish player. The former Manchester City player is very good at bringing his team-mates into the game. At times, he was criticised for not having a killer instinct during his time in Manchester. Based on the opening two matches at his new club, that won’t be an issue. The striker looks desperate to score goals and his decision making in the final third has remained at a high standard.
On Saturday, he got two goals and two assists. It was a forward performance of the highest standard. In addition to getting the returns, he also had the most impressive underlying numbers. Jesus had 1.4 xG (expected goals) and 0.6 xA (expected assists) during the victory. No player on the pitch registered a higher number for either metric.
Last season, Arsenal had an exciting attack, but they were very raw. There was inconsistency in the performances of all the attackers. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both struggled to be the leader of the attack. This was a factor in the Gunners’ failure to qualify for the Champions League. Jesus was identified as the right person to be the centre forward for Mikel Arteta’s team. The early indications are that he is the perfect fit.
Further to his goal threat, Jesus is one of the hardest working forwards in the division. His experience at Manchester City has given him the ability to press to a high standard and he doesn’t stop closing down opposition defences. On Saturday, he recorded 21 pressures, which was the most of any player on the pitch. The majority of these were in the final third, which shows that Arteta wants his team to press higher up the pitch this season.
It has been a contrasting start to the season for Arsenal. Last year, they had a really poor start and it took them four matches to score a goal, let alone win a match. This campaign, they have started with back-to-back wins. The signings have created a positive feeling around the club, something that has been missing for a few years.
The supporters were excited to watch the young squad last season, but they lacked the experience to secure a top four finish. The issues have been fixed with the squad and Jesus has been the statement signing. It speaks volumes about how he is viewed that he has already taken up a leadership role. The forward is one of the key members of the leadership group, supporting Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka.
There will still be question marks about Jesus, but the early signs have been very positive. If he continues delivering to this standard, he could even be talked about as one of the best players in the league. Few spoke about him like that during his time at Manchester City. He is now a big fish in a smaller pond and his quality is shining through.