Three Things We Learned from Arsenal 4 – 2 Leicester
Arsenal rolled to their second win in the season with a thrilling, yet nerve wracking 4-2 win over visiting Leicester. In the early dawn of the season, only Man City and the Gunners have taken maximum points from their opening fixtures.
It’s a different feel to the opening of the season than it was last year. The doom and gloom that came with the first three matches last year has been replaced with hope and joy of this season.
With that we turn to another edition of Three Things We Learned. . .
Gabriel Jesus Everything, We Had Hoped For
Over the weekend on social media, someone posted a video of Alexandre Lacazette missing a goal against Spurs and seemingly making Arsene Wenger moan in despair. It wasn’t too dissimilar to the many missed attempts we saw from him in his last 6 months here.
He worked hard but he never had the end product that went with the work. That has now been replaced by the work ethic and production of one Gabriel Jesus formerly of Manchester City. So far, he’s everything we had hoped for.
There was of course some mumbling last week when Jesus failed to score. That’s the environment of social media today. But for those that really watched, they saw movement and effort that aided his other teammates in getting their chances.
This week he added to that with two goals each of differing quality and it showed Arsenal supporters what we had been missing not only in the last 6 months prior to this arrival but probably as far back as almost 2 years ago (the time of Auba’s contract signing and subsequent decline.)
The first goal was something from nothing, the Gunners using small intricate passing into the box, found Jesus off to the Leicester goalkeeper’s right, with the ball under him and 3 defenders around him, he produced a simple scoop shot of such quality that even neutrals should’ve stood and applauded.
His second goal off a set piece and what could be called a tap in header, but he still had the wherewithal to find the space and get the ball in the net.
And that wasn’t even his best moment.
His best moment on the pitch was the goal that wasn’t. Starting with a long direct play from Ramsdale, Jesus posted up Johnny Evans just outside the Leicester 18. Jesus not only plucks the ball out of the air, but he proceeds to hold off Evans and spin him with a run in on goal. Only a foot save by the keeper stopped Jesus from getting his hat trick.
But Gabriel Jesus is so much more than just goals. He is the center piece by which this team flows. All the passing and movement around the box happen because it is happening by the man who leads the line. His movement, opens space for others to move into, drawing defenders with him and creating opportunities for himself and others or at a minimum creating space for Arsenal to retain possession and try to open up opposition.
When he was substituted yesterday, he was greeted with a standing ovation. His 7 shots for the day were more than all of Leicester’s combined. He had 3 shots on target and 15 touches in the opposition box. That is the most touches by an Arsenal player in the box since May 2019.
He led the team in successful dribbles and he was only bested by his compatriot, Martinelli for most key passes. He is also the first Arsenal player to score a brace in their first home Premier League match.
Perhaps his teammate here and at City, Olexsandr Zinchenko said best.
“He’s a world-class player. In terms of his numbers, the way he works, his attitude in training every single day.”
”He’s an example, He’s still young. Of course, everyone needs to improve some things. He’s not ideal (the finished article), but he scores goals. The rest, he’s unbelievable.”
He’s a player this young squad needed. Arteta said in his post-match comments, he lifts the standards, he’s engaging with the other players and connecting with them.
Its early days and this season will surely have its moments where things go a little wobbly. For now though, Gabriel Jesus has given this team an element it hasn’t had since perhaps Alexis Sanchez was here and his best, a legitimate goal scoring threat every time Arsenal are in the box.
Arsenal Fans, simply the best
“I think the crowd was special, especially after Saliba’s own goal. The way they reacted was something I’ve never seen in football; the amount of support and connection they are showing with us, and especially with William, lifted the team straight away. I have to thank them so much for that.
“From the first minute, they were electric. You feel like they are totally with us, totally engaged and it is so energising for the team. The boys keep talking about it – they can’t wait to play in front of this crowd, and it’s making a huge difference.”
That was Mikel Arteta speaking of the Arsenal supporters after the match. They were all that and more. Simply put the fans in the stadium have since last season grown into a 12th man. They’ve been vocal, supportive, and frankly quite loud.
The atmosphere is electric with every match. The stadium is sold out again. The fans are connecting with the players and embracing the manager.
The manager must get a lot of credit for it. He realized early on that one of the biggest things that had to be fixed was the connection between the club and the fans. No doubt when he took over it was at an all time low and even in his early days it was poor, but he never lost sight of what needed to be done and it has paid off.
No more as that evident then the response William Saliba got from the fans after his disastrous own goal. It was a by product of a goalkeeper and defender still working to get on the same wavelength and could’ve happened to anyone.
As caustic as things have been in the past, it would’ve been easy to think that the fans would’ve gotten on him. But no, they didn’t in fact it was quite the opposite and quite refreshing to see. The stadium did all they could to lift him up and support him.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen or heard anything like it. Without a doubt the net result was a player who instantly was lifted and refocused on the task and didn’t put a foot wrong.
The players have said, the manager has said but the fans are such an important part on the road and at home and the connection they’ve made with the team is amazing.
If Arsenal achieve anything some of that will be in part with how the fans have gotten behind this team.
Gabriel Martinelli Will Have a Breakout Season
In the Amazon documentary, Arsenal All or Nothing, coach Steve Round tells Edu,
‘I love him, honestly, I love him,’
‘He just needs time, that’s all.
‘He’s a great kid’
‘He trains every day like it is his last day on earth. He is a diamond, he really is.’
That diamond is close to be as valuable as they come for Arsenal. Already in his last three premier league appearances (Leicester, Palace and Everton) he has three goals.
He’s got technical quality that is heads and tails above many players his age and its no wonder why a lot of the Arsenal attack is already going through him.
He adds to that quality with a humility that is not all that common in players today, especially many of the younger ones who go for the flash that comes with modern football.
He like many of his teammates are a player that fans are connecting with and supporting and feeding off his own energy. He’s committed himself to the Arsenal already stating
‘Arsenal are a giant team. If I can, I’ll stay here my whole life,’
‘I want to conquer things. I already said I want to stay here and win titles, with this wonderful crowd, my teammates. We have a young group, we have a lot of time ahead of us, players with a lot of quality, I think we will achieve great things.’
It’s a big task he’s laid out for Arsenal but if any player is capable of making it happen it could very well be the Brazilian forward we had on the books even before Gabriel Jesus.