• Tue. Nov 28th, 2023

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Gabriel Jesus is a specialist in the Champions League – Arsenal need him to stay fit

“He changed our world”. This was Mikel Arteta’s post-match assessment of Gabriel Jesus’ impact since signing Arsenal in 2022.

Last night in Seville, Jesus changed the game.

One audacious mastery created the opening goal for Gabriel Martinelli in stoppage time of the first half. Then, eight minutes after half-time, Jesus curled a superb shot into the top corner of the goal – the moment that would ultimately win the match.

“These games are for big players,” Arteta said. He showed that tonight.”

In this 26-year-old Brazilian international, Arsenal have a The Champions League expert.

It was a Jesus performance that had everything. A goal, an assist, a brief spell with the captain’s armband – and, worryingly for Arsenal fans, a brutal exit as he clutched his thigh. “He felt something in his thigh. so let’s see,” Arteta told the television cameras. “He immediately asked to be sub, which is not good news, because Gabby is not a player who does that at all.”

Arteta described himself as “very sad” about the injury. The extent of that will not be known until Jesus is assessed when the team return to their London Colney training ground. Jesus certainly seemed to be in a good mood as he boarded the squad car. And when he was withdrawn in the 81st minute, he sat on the bench rather than go down the tunnel for treatment.

Only when Arsenal name their starting line-up to face the visitors Sheffield United on saturday we will find out the real gravity of the problem. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to name Arteta when it comes to team news – the Arsenal boss uses smoke and mirrors to cover up his selection wherever possible.

There is no denying Jesus’ importance to Arsenal. He is part of the core leadership group and took over the captaincy last night already Martin Odegaard was substituted midway through the second half.

There are many in this team who had not experienced the Champions League before this season. Some won’t be shocked – Martinelli made his first appearance in the competition in his fifth season at the club and was a constant threat down the left. It was he who capitalized on Jesus’ brilliant turn to score the first goal.

“Last night I was just lying in bed thinking about this moment and how it could be, and how I wanted it to be,” Martinelli said after the game. Perhaps the 22-year-old was dreaming of hearing the Champions League theme before kicking off. He would have no such luck, as the maddened crowd at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium drowned out that familiar chorus.

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“He scored nine goals and then went to halftime”: Gabriel Martinelli

It created an ominous atmosphere. How much value is it for Martinelli and co to have a teammate as experienced at this level as Jesús?

Jesus is not only capable of dealing with football in the Champions League. He is thriving.

Jesus with the player of the match award after the match (Alex Caparros – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Jesus has scored in each of Arsenal’s three group games since their return to Europe’s biggest stage this season for the first time since 2017, making him the competition’s joint-top scorer. His last 17 major league starts with Manchester City and Arsenal have produced 14 goals and four assists. This is a fantastic record – rivaling any in Europe.

In Premier League, Jesús scores an average of 0.36 goals per game. In the Champions League, this number rises significantly to 0.56 goals per game. Setting aside phenomena such as Erling Haaland, a goal every other time is often seen as a desirable ratio for a striker. Jesus has never been defined as particularly productive, but in the European game he meets that mark.

Martinelli was full of praise for his countryman.

“He helps me a lot, talks to me and today he was important for the team and for me too because he gave me my assist,” said the younger Brazilian. “The guy is amazing, I’ve said it many times: he’s so good and I love playing with him.”

The interplay between Gabriel’s two attackers at Arsenal was crucial to last night’s win.

Although many were looking forward to a duel with Sergio RamosJesus’ tendency to drift to the left meant that the two came into contact relatively rarely.

The opening goal was the result of Gabriel’s three Brazilians combining. Center back Magalhaes cleared to Jesus, who brought in a high ball under spell.

With two defenders behind him, he hit the ball back between himself and spun into space.

He then delivered a perfectly weighted pass to Martinelli who ran through to score.

It was a moment of great imagination and impeccable technology. As Martinelli ran away in celebration, the majority of his teammates ran to Jesus. When Jesus scored Arsenal’s second goal, he was mobbed by most of the traveling Arsenal team. Takehiro Tomiyasuhimself the most impressive performer of the night, simply stood back to applaud.

“He came here for a reason,” Arteta said of Jesus. “He brought so much belief and energy to the team that he has to step in at these moments. He has done it. That’s when a player becomes responsible for the team. We need these players to win games.”

There’s another game around the corner. Arsenal will hope Jesus is fit for their next Premier League game on Saturday afternoon. It was only the second time in xx games this season that the trio of Jesus, Martinelli and Bukayo Saka can start together. To lose one of them again so soon would be especially painful.

Above all, they will be desperate to get Jesus back in place for their next Champions League game, already Seville arrived in north London on November 8.

These European nights are when his star seems to shine brightest.

(Photo: Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

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