Gabriel Jesus made his home Arsenal debut as the Gunners hosted Sevilla in their final fixture of pre-season. The Brazilian front man stole the show at the Emirates, scoring a hat-trick in a 6-0 demolition of the Spanish outfit.
If there was an air of optimism around the stadium before the game, there is a palpable excitement afterwards — particularly because Arsenal fans feel as though they’ve got the number nine they’ve been crying out for.
Here are 3 things from Jesus’ performance today that you should know.
His pressing sets the tone
It is no secret that Mikel Arteta wants his teams to press from the front, leaving little time for the opposition to think on the ball. Within 30 seconds of kick off, he could be seen hunting down. Bono in the Sevilla goal, forcing the keeper into a sliced clearance — a sign of things to come.
It was Jesus’ pressing again which led to Bono’s second error of the game, panicking under pressure from the Arsenal striker before playing a pass straight into Bukayo Saka, who scored with a first time finish.
Pep Guardiola said of him just last season: “When we need runners and players that help with our high intensity and high pressing, Gabriel is the best in the world”. High praise indeed.
He knows where the goal is
This may seem a prerequisite for a striker, but many people initially questioned whether Jesus is the goalscorer that Arsenal so desperately need. With 58 goals in 159 Premier League appearances to date, many of which were from the bench, the forward also boasts the 17th best minutes-to-goal ratio in Premier League history. His flying start to life at Arsenal further backs up his goal scoring prowess.
Ahead of the new season, Jesus has netted 7 times, including 3 at the Emirates Cup today. His first came after a move he was heavily involved in orchestrating; bringing the ball down on his chest on the left touchline before playing it inside and continuing his run. Granit Xhaka’s cross deflected into the feet of the Brazilian, who had got himself into the ideal position to sweep home and score.
His second was an even more impressive finish, sliding in unopposed to meet compatriot Gabriel Martinelli’s curled cross to guide the ball past the goalkeeper first-time.
Arsenal’s new number nine completed his hat-trick after picking up the scraps at the far post after Bono saved from Gabriel Magalhaes at close range; taking the ball around the defender with his first touch before finishing with his weak foot into the roof of the net. He was substituted shortly after to round off a successful day at the office.
With the opportunity to be the main man in a team brimming with energetic attacking talent this season, it would be fair to assume that Jesus will be a regular on the scoresheet — especially if his pre-season is anything to go by.
He is a level raiser
A marquee signing of any kind tends to have a positive effect on the players around them. This is clear to see in the case of Jesus not only through the morale boost his signing brings, but of course through his ability, which takes Arsenal up a level.
Take Martin Odegaard as a good example. The playmaker knows he now has a potent striker who offers him options and runs off the ball — luxuries he was not afforded last season. The difference it made to the Norwegian’s own performance against Sevilla was obvious.
Arteta himself pointed out in his post-match press conference that Jesus’ presence is having an impact on the new Arsenal captain, saying: “Gabi makes Odegaard better. We needed someone to make him look better — Martin needs runners ahead of him. The connection is there.”
Jesus’ versatility has been well documented, often being deployed from wide positions by Guardiola. Against Sevilla, his combinations out on the left hand side with Zinchenko in particular allowed him to drift, with Martinelli then offering himself centrally. It’s this type of attacking fluidity that has become a hallmark of some of the best teams in recent years, and clearly something Arteta is trying to emulate.
You also often see the Brazilian dropping deep to get on the ball, somewhat akin to his predecessor Alexandre Lacazette; the difference being that Jesus has the legs to get into attacking positions quickly, which gives Arsenal a whole new dimension.
He looks hungry for goals, full of confidence and ready to hit the ground running against Crystal Palace next Friday.