By Sir Hardly Anyone
The Gabriel injury has been something that the media has been desperately waiting for. Having universally predicted a season of failure for Arsenal they have ceaselessly been playing catch-up through the season as Arsenal have fulfilled the promise of the last 35 games of last season – something few of the media reported at the time (in contrast to the number of column inches devoted to the first three games).
But now they are able to return to the chaos and collapse reporting about Arsenal that they so love. Goal has immediately jumped in with the headline “Which Arsenal games will Gabriel Jesus miss” while what is rather jokingly called an “analysis” in the Telelgraph there is the declaration, “Injury to Arsenal’s talisman makes title challenge almost impossible”.
They then proclaim that “If there is one player that Arsenal cannot afford to lose for an extended amount of time, it is Gabriel Jesus. The Brazil striker has been the most important player in Arsenal’s drive up the table this season, providing a new level of dynamism and intensity in their attack.”
So let’s look at the overall picture . If we create a league table in terms of goal scoring it reads….
Arsenal are the second most prolific team in the league – and it is noticeable that Manchester City have been considerably off form in recent games, scoring just seven goals in the last five league matches compared with 33 in the previous nine!
So let us consider Arsenal’s attacking options this season with figures from 11v11
There is no hiding the fact that Gabriel Jesus has scored five, but one of the most remarkable things about Arsenal this season is the level of scoring around the team. This is not to say that an injured Gabriel Jesus would not be missed, but the notion that Arsenal are utterly dependent on him and have never once thought about what they would do if here were injured in the crazy games this winter is ludicrous.
Everyone knows that some players return from the WC crippled, and clubs prepare for that. But now quite how the media describe. For example FoLo has as its top story “Cristiano Ronaldo could solve Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus injury problem”. I’ll leave you to contemplate that one.
Sportv, tell us that the player will return to London for surgery. “The procedure means Jesus could miss three months of action for Mikel Arteta’s table toppers.” Note the world “could”.
But in reality what is most likely to happen? Eddie has been kept out of the side because of the settled nature of the team in the first third of the season, but when he has had a chance in the Europa league has knocked in a couple of goals.
Folarin Balogun has scored eight times for Reims this season which is not bad for a club that is half way down the French League and has only scored 16 goals in total. Scoring 50% of your club’s goals, in a side that has only won three games is not a bad feat.
But we should also not forget that we do have another player coming into the squad for the last two-thirds of the season: Emile Smith Rowe. And indeed way back in February Arteta is quoted as saying of Smith Rowe, “I think he can play in four positions. As a left winger, a left attacking midfielder, a right attacking midfielder and he can play as a nine, very, very well.”
That last part of the sentence is one that doesn’t fit with the media’s “Arsenal in chaos” format and thus we might return to the Mirror wherein a certain Samuel Meade who is defined as their “Sports Brand Writer” (whichever that is) gives us this opinion:
“Gary Neville had warned Arsenal that they were “done” if they lost Gabriel Jesus for a prolonged period as fears grow around his injury. However, there is one cause for festive cheer at Emirates Stadium, as Eddie Nketiah was on target in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Watford on Saturday afternoon. According to GOAL, the 23-year-old and Marquinhos scored in the first half to give the Gunners a 2-1 lead at half-time.”
What they don’t say of course is that our top scorer is Odegaard (six). Martinelli and Saka both have five (exactly as Gabriel has) and Xhaka has four.
So Arsenal have scored 21 goals through their top four goal scoring players. One of those four is now injured for a while. Does that really mean we have to rush out and buy a replacement?
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