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Tactical Analysis: Why Gabriel Jesus is key to Arsenal success despite lack of goals

Gabriel Jesus is becoming a divisive figure for the Arsenal fanbase.

Jesus was signed from Manchester City over the summer and tasked with being Arsenal’s main no.9.

This is a role the Brazilian had little experience with before 2022/23, as he spent much of his Manchester City career playing second fiddle to Sergio Aguero or being used out wide in a false-nine.

However, Jesus had a bright start to life in north London, scoring two and assisting three in his first three Premier League outings.

But in recent times, the goals have dried up for Jesus and he is now nine games without a goal for the Gunners.

Jesus has also missed 11 big chances in the Premier League this campaign, the most of any player in the division.

And given Arsenal do not have much firepower on their bench, having your striker go nine games without a goal is not exactly ideal.

Most modern strikers have some form of pressing role now, but Jesus’ ability to press from the front and win tackles is second to none.

The latest example of this came in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Chelsea at the weekend.

Whilst the narrative post-match was about Jesus’ Barron run in front of goal continuing, the South American played a crucial role in the Gunners’ only goal of the match.

Bukayo Saka’s corner was stabbed in by Gabriel, but it was Jesus who won the corner.

Trevoh Chalobah plays the ball across the backline to Thiago Silva.

Jesus then cuts off the passing lane back to Chalobah, forcing Silva to look forward.

But rather than stopping there as many strikers would, the former Manchester City man chases down Thiago Silva and intercepts the ball, which falls to Bukayo Saka.

Saka then brings the ball forward and plays in Jesus who has a shot, which is deflected out for the corner Arsenal scored from.

This was not the first time Jesus has done something like this for Arsenal in 2022/23.

In Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Bournemouth early in the season, Jesus makes a run to cut off the passing lane from a centre-back.

He then follows the Bournemouth defender, who is unaware of Jesus’ presence and tries to play a ball to his right. This is intercepted by the striker and goes straight to Bukayo Saka.

After a few passes, the ball finds its way to Martin Odegaard, who slips in Jesus for a goal.

Jesus’ effort was ruled out by VAR, but the point remains that Jesus’ pressing and ability to cut out passing lanes has led to numerous chances for Arsenal this season.

It is therefore not too surprising to learn that Jesus has the most successful tackles (18), most interceptions (6) and most fouls won (36) of any striker in the Premier League this season.

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Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.

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