“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!