It’s early days of course, but Gabriel Jesus is already looking like a strong contender for the signing of the season.
The Brazilian has been directly involved in more goals than any other Premier League player this campaign (five), netting twice and currently leading the competition’s ‘Playmaker of the Season’ award with three assists.
Of course, the metrics look mouth-watering for those of a red and white persuasion, but they don’t paint the full picture. Arsenal’s opener against Bournemouth was a moment of wizardry from Jesus that (unfortunately) won’t be logged in the 2022/23 stats catalogue — but that certainly doesn’t diminish the artistry of his work.
Trapping the ball like a bean bag from a lofted Ben White clearance Jesus, almost dismissively, shrugged Marcos Senesi to the turf in one of those welcome-to-the-Premier-League moments, before sauntering forward in elegant strides and teeing up Gabriel Martinelli.
A goal for Odergaard but all the work was done by Jesus, who appears to have morphed into Messi.
— Gary Lineker ?? (@GaryLineker) August 20, 2022
His 21-year-old compatriot let loose, but Mark Travers was equal to his effort, though not enough to avert the danger, with Johnny-on-the-spot Martin Odegaard there to tap home and break the deadlock for the travelling Londoners.
The Norwegian will naturally take the acclaim but it was Jesus’ pirouette-laden run that stole the show, with Sky Sports commentator and former Arsenal forward Alan Smith branding him a “Pink Rolls-Royce” while on air — and he would be at it again moments later, inadvertently trapping the ball from a White cross to tee up Odegaard, who smashed home for an early brace.
William Saliba later opened his account for the Gunners with a scintillating left-footed effort, executing an early coup de grace that all-but confirmed the three points for Arsenal. Those travelling back up the M3 tonight will certainly be giddy at the prospect of what this season might hold.
The result means that for the first time since the 2004/05 season, Arsenal have won their first three Premier League games, nearly two decades on from those halcyon days under Arsene Wenger, and chalk and cheese from last campaign’s three straight defeats.
Only Gabriel Martinelli and Alexandre Lacazette (both 4) have provided more Premier League assists for Arsenal in 2022 than Gabriel Jesus (3).
He's only played three games. ? pic.twitter.com/RHPnexy1nm
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 20, 2022
Whether Arsenal can maintain this form remains to be seen, but the early indicators are certainly promising, and in Jesus, Arteta has a No. 9 he can rely on. The Brazilian has already registered more touches in the opposition box than any other player across Europe’s top five leagues (29), underlining his reputation as a penalty-box assassin.
It will be encouraging for Arteta that his marquee acquisition can produce a man-of-the-match performance despite not getting on the scoresheet, but it certainly wasn’t for the want of trying. This wasn’t so much a case of Bournemouth muzzling the Brazilian, but that his efforts simply didn’t result in anything of tangible note. He was pulling the strings and finding space.
On another day, he would have nabbed a couple, and that will be the encouraging post-match take from Arsenal. This was a ruthlessly mature performance that evoked early Olés from the travelling fans, saw Saliba enhance his burgeoning reputation and secured a thoroughly deserved three points.
And Jesus was at the heart of every moment.