Gabriel Jesus has enjoyed a positive start to his Arsenal career and he has appeared to take a swipe at Pep Guardiola after his positional change and where he was playing.
It has been a mightily impressive start for Gabriel Jesus in an Arsenal shirt with the forward wowing fans in the Gunners’ opening two matches of the season.
The 25-year-old was named as the Player of the Match after he scored twice and grabbed two assists in the Gunners’ 4-2 win over Leicester City on Saturday. He failed to notch a goal contribution against Crystal Palace on the opening day, but impressed throughout as Arsenal made the perfect start.
Gabriel Jesus celebrates after scoring his second goal against Leicester City.
And Jesus has admitted that he is enjoying his football a lot more at the Gunners following his £45million switch from Manchester City last month, and revealed his confidence had started to be dented under the coaching of Pep Guardiola.
“I started playing much more on the wing at City and for Brazil. For a while I thought that. But I’ve changed my mentality, I believe much more in myself now. I’m smiling again playing football.
“I’m very blessed as I can play across all front three but I am a No.9. I am there to finish our chances. Not only that but to help the team as a whole. It’s normal to pick up and think that you can’t play with 9, that I’m a winger,” he told ESPN Brasil.
Guardiola mainly used Jesus as a right-winger last season, with either Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan or Raheem Sterling as the ‘false nine’. It proved to be a model that worked for City as they lifted the Premier League for the fourth time in five seasons, but once again failed to deliver the Champions League. Jesus did, however, feature as a No.9 against Watford and scored four times in a 5-1 win.
But the Brazil international seems to be happier at the Gunners and has a free role across their fluid forward line to express himself and get into positions that he wouldn’t have been able to do at City. Guardiola’s shape means you have to be extremely disciplined and stick to your role, rather than roam around.
Jesus has been able to drift deep, and out to the wings at the Gunners. For his first goal against Leicester, Jesus picked up the ball on the left-hand side, before playing some intricate football with Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli. He then received the ball just inside the area, surrounded by four Leicester defenders, but still managed to dink the ball superbly into the top corner.
It was a type of goal that Jesus rarely scored at City, as he wasn’t given the freedom to explore other areas of the pitch. Jesus is now the main man at Arsenal, and has clearly told by Arteta to express himself and enjoy his football. There is no doubt Jesus has the talent to become one of the best Premier League forwards, after striking 95 times for the Citizens in his five years at the club.
His performance against Leicester showed signs that he is hitting levels that not many have hit at Arsenal for years. The striker had 15 touches in the penalty area, the most by an Arsenal player in the last seven seasons. He also had eight shots, completed 42 successful passes, created three chances and won six aerial duels in his first two games for the Gunners.
In comparison, Jesus averaged just over a shot per-game and conjured-up less than one opportunity per-match last season at City. It was a record that failed to deceive, and although there has only been two matches played, he is looking like a different player and the change of style and system is helping.