Why Gabriel Jesus is perfect for Arsenal

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Ever since Aubameyang fell off the how to be a professional professional cliff, Arsenal have been in desperate need of a striker who can bang in the goals, whilst supporting the energetic youngsters leading the club to pastures new. Alexandre Lacazette played an important role last season in helping the club to a fifth place finish, where he operated as a ‘false nine’, dropping deep and facilitating the runs in behind from the speedsters around him. Any new centre-forward entering the frame must therefore be able to maintain that level of support play, but concomitantly add a greater threat in behind – particularly in front of goal. Who you goanna call? Gabriel Jesus. Here is why Arsenal’s latest signing is perfect for the Gunners, and could be the bang for the buck they need to catapult back into the top four.

ARSENAL’S STRIKING NEED

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As we noted back in January, Alexandre Lacazette made himself an incredibly useful player in his final year at the club. His facilitation of build-up play, intelligent pressing, and leadership at the front nicely supported the cast and crew developing around him. The Frenchman’s goal tally never lived up to the hype he brought with him when arriving from Lyon, but that could (in some way) be forgiven for his overall performances. But at the age of 31, Laca was always set to leave on a free transfer, with the club inevitably searching for replacements in the form of Jonathan David, Dusan Vlahovic, and eventually Gabriel Jesus. Eddie Nketiah even stole a starting birth away in the closing stages of the season, scoring 5 goals in 7 matches to end off the campaign. The 23-year-old’s form earned himself a contract renewal come the end of the season, bringing positive hope for a future that once seemed unlikely to come to fruition at Emirates Stadium.

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Nevertheless, another signing was always inevitable, particularly in adding a guaranteed goal-threat in behind. Gabriel Jesus in many ways, without downplaying his ability, is incredibly similar to Nketiah in style of play, just with sizable differences in quality – both in and out of possession. Nketiah’s 10 goals in all competitions and his stellar performances when it mattered most will serve him well for the upcoming campaign. But it’s non-comparable to a man who’s won 8 major trophies in 6 seasons with the Sky Blues, scoring 95 goals in that time. In fact, no player in the history of the Premier League has scored 100% of their goals inside the eighteen-yard-box to the same extent as Jesus (58 goals inside the eighteen), where the Brazilian forward thrives in finding space for the finish. The clinical edge that he adds inside the eighteen will help to make him one of the most lethal strikers in the Premier League, and wonderfully support all the talent feeding passes into his path at every opportunity.

GABRIEL JESUS’S STYLE OF PLAY

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Gabriel Jesus is one of the most versatile forwards on the planet, capable of playing anywhere in the front-line. The Brazilian play-maker excelled on the right wing last season for Pep Guardiola’s City, scoring 7 goals with 6 assists in just 13 matches whilst playing in the position. The wing allowed Jesus’s creativity and incisive passing into the penalty area to take center-stage, where he could use his undeniable pace, energy and trickery to outwit his opponents 1v1. This could prove an incredibly useful option for Mikel Arteta’s team in 2022-23, particularly in giving Bukayo Saka some much needed rest at some point during the upcoming season.

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Perhaps more discouragingly for the Gunners, he scored just 1 goal with 2 assists in the 8 matches he featured as a centre-forward last season in all competitions, and accumulated none when coming off the bench. The 25-year-old therefore thrives when given enough time to grow into the match and develop in-game chemistry with his mates. He’s less productive when thrown on as a game changing substitute, which is something for the Gunners to keep in mind.

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But despite his low contribution numbers as a centre-forward, Jesus’s importance in other realms of the game cannot be ignored. He’s an incredibly productive player, simultaneously dropping in to receive as a ‘false nine’, whilst also holding full capabilities of sprinting in behind and making himself a nuisance as a natural number nine. He wants to involve himself in every defensive phase, highlighted by his 1.2 blocks and 0.86 interceptions per 90. When it comes to energetic pressing and probing, he even accumulated 0.6 tackles in the final third per 90 – ranking in the top 1% of centre-forwards across Europe.

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Oozing class in possession, Jesus harnesses both the speed and skill to easily win any 1v1 battle. In fact, he won 65.6% of his dribbles in the 2021-22 Premier League season, again ranking in the top 1% of forwards. But he’s not just a capable carrier of the ball, he’s also more than competent in picking out the right passes for his mates. Often needing to play with his back to goal or looking to create moments of magic with the riskiest of passes, Jesus still boasted an impressive 84.8% passing percentage in the Premier League, again ranking among the top centre-forwards/wingers in Europe’s top five leagues. When you combine that with energetic running style both on and off-the-ball, an adept awareness of space, and a clinical edge to his finishing, Gabriel Jesus is one of the most complete forwards on the planet. Don’t believe us? You’ll see…

STATISTICAL COMPARISON

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While £45 million may seem like a hefty fee, let’s get one thing straight. £45 million is an absolute bargain in today’s market, especially for a player of Jesus’s impeccable quality. Not only can he score for fun, but he facilitates build-ups, presses from the front, creates chances for others, and plays in multiple roles. His attacking numbers across the board rank significantly more impressive than Lacazette and Nketiah, illustrating why he should be the first choice forward at every opportunity.

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It will be unsurprising for you to hear that Gabriel Jesus tops nearly every statistical category when compared against his predecessors. Manchester City are an incredible team full of talent in every position, and it is generally easier for a Citizen to accumulate impressive statistics. That is all true. But it’s worth noting just how far he supersedes the other two. In most cases, it’s not even close.

ATTACKING THREAT

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In our attacking categories, Gabriel Jesus comes out on top in all but two sections. Lacazette put more crosses into the box than the 25-year-old in 2021-22, perhaps the least important category examined; whilst Nketiah finished with a slightly greater scoring edge on goals per shot.

PlayerG + AxG + xAShotsG / ShotKPGCASCAPPACrsPA
Gabriel Jesus0.770.743.020.111.670.863.741.480.29
Alexandre Lacazette0.560.502.170.051.210.453.281.011.87
Eddie Nketiah0.650.653.020.181.180.432.480.430.00

If Jesus is to lead the line for the Gunners next season, he will just need to up his clinical edge in front of goal. This may mean working to harness the finer details of the fantastic power he can generate, picking the corners and occasionally settling for the simpler side-footed finish. But even 0.11 goals per shot remains a decent ratio, and his numbers in all other categories showcase the variety to his game. 0.77 goals + assists and 0.86 goal-creating-actions per 90 feature as particularly outrageous numbers, showcasing his inevitable ability to boost Arsenal’s fluency in the final third next season.

POSSESSION

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Again, Jesus’s stats can be expected to be inflated as a result of playing for a side capable of controlling 68% of the possession. But we cannot ignore the potential influence he could bring to Arsenal on the ball, beyond just being an excellent interpreter of space capable of running in behind and finishing off attacking moves.

PlayerProg. PProg. CPass. 1/3Pass PressTarget #Att. PenDribl %PP Rec.
Gabriel Jesus2.547.031.106.7052.87.9965.67.70
Alexandre Lacazette1.872.320.665.0039.85.4056.76.52
Eddie Nketiah1.084.622.473.7645.47.6337.07.63

Jesus completed 7.03 progressive carries per 90 last season, which will be essential to helping Arsenal advance up the field and approach the creation stage earlier on in their possession. He completed 6.7 passes under pressure per 90 last season, and found his way to 7.99 touches in the attacking penalty area per 90, always finding a way to get involved even in pressurized circumstances. Having a player so clearly capable of finding pockets of space and then advancing the team will be critical to obtaining more possession next season for the Gunners, and hopefully with a greater progressive edge.

DEFENSIVE CONTRIBUTION

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Since City kept 68% of the possession last season, you would expect his defensive stats to be considerably lower, and nowhere near as impressive. But as it turns out, that is far from the case for the energetic Brazilian, who wins on five of the eight categories examined.

PlayerTkl + Int.Tkl %PressPress %Aerial %BlksFlsRecov.
Gabriel Jesus2.0124.014.124.433.91.201.446.12
Alexandre Lacazette1.9746.718.130.224.40.661.874.62
Eddie Nketiah1.9433.319.128.117.60.751.723.79

Arsenal fans would love to see improvements in his pressing next season. Whilst he always gives his full effort and intensity, his side were less successful in winning back possession on his pressures and tackles than Nketiah and Lacazette. He did however contribute more defensive numbers in sheer volume on tackles + interceptions, blocks, and recoveries; and conceded fewer fouls than his two comparisons. His aerial dueling percentage, whilst low, also showcases a greater threat to contribute positively at both ends of the pitch than his predecessors. Out of all the facets of Jesus’s game that Arsenal fans can look forward to, his defensive contribution will be one of the most notoriously underrated. But it cannot be understated just how much of a monstrous work-horse the 25-year-old will be for Mikel Arteta’s team, making the £45 million justified on defensive output alone.

CONCLUSION

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Gabriel Jesus arrives at Arsenal Football Club as the complete package, capable of fulfilling a number of different roles and tasks. Not only is the Brazilian a competent creator and scorer of great goals, he is also a highly active contributor both in and out of possession. Jesus catches the eye in not only 1v1 situations where he can use his pace and power to explode away from defenders, but in stellar perceptions of space to find pockets to receive and work his way around defensive blocks. Whether he operates as a false nine, nominal nine or on either wing, Gabriel Jesus will be an extraordinary asset for the Gunners to possess, and one fully capable of taking the club to the next level.


So there it is! Why Gabriel Jesus is perfect for Arsenal. Be sure to check out more from this series, more Transfer Market Analyses, and follow on social media @mastermindsite. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

You might also enjoy…
-> Why Marc Cucurella is perfect for Manchester City
-> Why Nick Pope is perfect for Newcastle United
-> Why Darwin Núñez is perfect for Liverpool
-> Why Erling Haaland is perfect for Manchester City

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