Jesus lays down a marker for his critics…


“He hasn’t scored since October”.

“He isn’t really a striker”.

“Richarlison was the better signing”.

We could go on and on with similar quotes from Jesus’s detractors, a club whose membership may soon be in free fall after his performance against Leeds. What’s more, rivals have been served notice as well.

Scoring from the spot wasn’t going to do much, but the second goal as well as his overall contribution has to have offered up a few servings of humble pie for those who have doubted Jesus ever since his £45m move from Man City. While he hasn’t scored goals at a rate that the more-optimistic among us might have hoped even before his injury, his effect and his influence since his return have been undeniable.

Since his return to the lineup after suffering that World Cup injury, we’ve scored 11 goals in three matches. While we can’t attribute all of that directly to Jesus (he played just 13 minutes in the 0-3 win over Fulham and 25 in the 4-1 win over Palace), even mere availability seems to have electrified and galvanised the entire squad and, of course, fans. For as feisty as the Emirates has been all season, the roars that have greeted his introduction as a sub have surely sent a surge of adrenaline throughout the rest of the squad.

For as vital as Trossard has been, contributing seven assists since joining, he doesn’t pose quite as much as a goal threat as Jesus does, and it was clear from the get-go against Leeds that Jesus was hungry to score on his first Prem start since 12 November. With Leeds keeping eight behind the ball and Ødegaard being effectively man-marked out of the match, service and chances were going to be hard to come by, but Jesus found a seam between the two centre-backs and headed Xhaka’s cross just over the bar.

The pen he earned may have been a bit on the soft side, but don’t overlook how he earned it. After sending Kristensen to the shadow realm with one turn, he did the same to Ayling (who was so bamboozled that he was still reacting to Jesus’s first move as the Brazilian offered a second. Even when he’s not scoring, he can instill terror.

Now that he is scoring, defenders will no longer be able to key in on Saka or Martinelli quite as keenly. It’s hard to double-team one player withotu leaving another open, after all, and there just aren’t enough defenders on the pitch to double-team all three.

Does he guarantee that we’ll win the Prem? No. There’s still a lot of work to be done. Does his return make winning the Prem a bit more realistic? Yes.

One more thing: this month, you can enter a raffle for a £25 Arsenal Direct gift card by commenting at the blog. The more often you comment, the better your chances at winning!

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12 thoughts on “Jesus lays down a marker for his critics…

  1. Maya

    It’s amazing to think we stayed top of the table without him, with him back we’re going to be even stronger!

    I wish Liverpool had done us a favor but maybe they’ll lose motivation if it starts to look like top four is out of reach. They have to play Chelsea in three days and then us three days later. I think we can get a tie at least!

    1. Kelechi Okafor

      Amen. Liverpool are rubbish away from home but still tough at Anfield. If they lose to Chelsea midweek, that might take the wind out of their sails before we arrive. Seeing Jesus with the bit in his teeth has to give us confidence and maybe even make the mugsmashers fret just a bit.

      1. Jon Shay Post author

        I’d say that Liverpool losing at Stamford Bridge is a foregone conclusion given how rubbish they are away from home, but Chelsea’s performance against Villa doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that they’ll rise to the midweek occasion. The best we can hope for is that Liverpool suffer another setback (and possibly lose a player or two to suspension or injury (not that I’d wish for anyone to get injured).

    2. Jon Shay Post author

      Well-said, Maya. I don’t think we can count on Liverpool letting up, though. I do think their schedule this week will become a factor, though. I’ve updated my tally sheet for this month’s comments, and you’re climbing. Keep it up!

  2. Mike Ton

    brilliant result but not such a good performance all around. we were strong from kick-off but gave away too many easy chances. We’ll have to be much better if we expect to come away from Anfield with anything, John. Salah doesn’t squander many chances.

  3. cuchulaiin2004

    Let’s be honest, we got a bit lucky. Ramsdale had to make too many saves and Leeds were wasteful with the many chances we gave them. In the end we got the result, maybe we even earned it, but we have to play better than this. It’s great to have Jesus back and play a full hour. If he can make up for lost time we’ll win this thing running away.

  4. palladio43

    A messy 1st half that was saved only by that soft penalty, but fortunately, Arteta must have awakened the crew and reminded them that City had already won and was breathing down their necks. Once they scored the second goal, things got better and it seemed for a while we would score another dozen. However, lots of passing and possession but not quite the killer instinct at either end (although their goal was a bit of a fluke and would have been an easy save for Ramsdale were it not for that deflection).
    BTW, is Chelsea’s owner having buyer’s remorse, not just for all he left when shopping in the Ukraine, but maybe, for the entire purchase?

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Part of me wonders whether this callow squad is feeling some pressure. Few of them save Zinchenko, Jesus, Partey, or Jorginho have been in this situation before after all.

      As to Chelsea, there’s certainly been enough buying to inspire some remorse. It’s amazing to think that they’ve slipped into the bottom half after that outllay.

  5. Consolsbob

    News in the UK is that several of the squad were off colour with a bug before the game including Ben White. Might help explain the flakey start. They got over it, that is what matters.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Aha, I hadn’t seen that but it would offer some valuable context. We’re not going to cakewalk our way through every match. Leeds looked like they were ready to fight for a scoreless draw (No Bamford or Rodrigo?) and held us off as best they could until Jesus created that opening and goal.

  6. NIgerian-TH14

    Nice and aptly written write up.

    We were average for the first 30 min and were lucky to be level before the penalty, even more lucky that it was awarded a penalty.
    If that was given against Arsenal, I would be absolutely devastated.

    Still we have gotten worse decisions against us and this things even out over the course of the season..

    Permit me to deviate a little.
    I want to look at 3 potential fixtures that we are expected to drop points and give a suggestion regarding a particular fixture and that’s City away.

    We lost at home to City simply because Arteta tried to match City at their own game. That was a horrible error..
    As obvious as it is that we have improved massively, we still aren’t at City’s level one on one.

    We tried to pass out from the back against them and that was how they got there 3 goals.
    City are press monsters, they are currently the deadliest pressing team in the world, they would destroy you if you do that.
    A classic example was yesterday, they completely destroyed Liverpool with that exact tactic. Liverpool made the same error we made.

    Look at the teams that have beaten City or gotten a point against them. Forest, Man Utd, Brentford, Leeds etc

    This teams never attempted to play out from the back for once, they simply stayed compact at the back and hit them on the counter. That’s the only way to get a point from them.
    Try to play out from the back or match this current city side possession for possession and you will be mince meat..

    I hope Arteta has learnt his lesson and doesn’t attempt to match them head on again …

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Excellent points, Nigerian TH-14 (pardon me for saying so, but that sounds like a droid from a Star Wars movie). You are correcdt in your analysis – few squads can match not to mention beat City by playing their game. For as good as we are at pressing and playing out from the back, City are superior in almost every regard. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arteta adopt an apporach similar to what you suggest. He’s shown a willingness to do that on previous occasions. Let’s hope we can go into the Etihad and come away with a draw or, maybe, a famous win!


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