In a period of frequent summer signings and acquisitions, Arsenal answered its biggest question early on.
Undoubtedly, Arsenal’s primary area of concern last season was up front. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang endured a tough final 16 months with the Gunners. The Gabon international appeared to be a shell of his former self following his massive contract extension in September of 2020. He departed, and actually performed well in the back half of the 2021/22 campaign with Barcelona.
Along with Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette failed to lead the way for Arsenal during the previous campaign. In fact, the Frenchman netted just four goals in 30 total Premier League appearances last season. He, too, is out from the Emirates for next season. Eddie Nketieh played fairly well during his time up front for the Gunners. Even then, Arsenal needed a boost in the center forward position this summer.
Arsenal’s key summer signing
Realistically, Arsenal could not have done any better than prying Gabriel Jesus away from Manchester City. The deal amounted to just over $57 million. Jesus, 25, helped City collect four Premier League titles. Plus, he added four other significant trophies in just five complete seasons in Manchester. Outside of his contribution to his team’s success, Jesus is the exact type of player that suits Arsenal.
Jesus did not always nail down a starting place in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI. Regardless, Jesus contributed regularly when he was on the pitch. In fact, the former City forward had the highest goal-creating actions per 90 minutes in the Premier League last season. Jesus helped create goals at a rate higher than any other player in the league. This occurred through passing, shooting, or being fouled.
In the No. 9 position, Jesus performs very well compared to other similar players in defensive actions. This includes things like tackles, interceptions, blocks or pressures. Clearly, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta wants his front line of forwards to help out in defense by pressuring opposing players. Pressures create turnovers and quickly turn defense into offense for the Gunners. Jesus’s style of play perfectly suits Arsenal.
Filling a gap
Arteta claimed that the center forward position was a clear need. Following Jesus’s signature, Arteta expressed his satisfaction to the club’s official website.
“It’s a position that’s been on our radar for a long time now and we have managed to get a player that we all wanted, so I’m really happy.”
Arsenal moved quickly in the summer transfer window to get the exact player that they needed. Jesus fills a huge hole up top for the north London outfit. Also, Martin Ødegaard likely welcomes the acquisition. Ødegaard made his move to the Gunners permanent last summer. While he was outstanding during the 2021/22 season, Jesus almost certainly helps the Norway international rack up assists.
Ødegaard managed the fifth-highest shot-creating actions in the Premier League last season. This is one spot higher than Mohamed Salah. But, he only managed four total assists in league play. Having a player as prolific as Jesus up front should mean that Ødegaard will be set for a big campaign ahead.
Although the Gunners still need a few more reinforcements before the summer window closes, particularly in central midfield and perhaps left back, Arsenal have done extremely well to secure their top target. Jesus even scored within 90 seconds of his first preseason match with his new club on Friday. Arsenal fans will hope that this is just the tip of the iceberg heading into the new Premier League season.
PHOTO: Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Women’s World Cup, Euro 2024 & Gold Cup
The New Home of MLS
- Price: $14.99/mo. for MLS Season Pass
- Watch every MLS game including playoffs & Leagues Cup
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $10.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $14.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & FA Cup
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $5.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & Brasileirāo