Gabriel Jesus is awaiting a big season for Manchester City and he couldn’t have started on a better note.
The 22-year-old Brazilian marksman led his nation to Copa América success on home soil this summer and with Sergio Aguero not yet up to speed Pep Guardiola opted for him against West Ham as they started their Premier League defence.
A cagy opening ended at the quarter-hour mark when Jesus got on the end of a brilliant Kyle Walker run and cross, it was his 69th goal in England’s top division, and meaning he’s now scored in each of his last five starts in official games played in London.
This also happened to be the first time he’s registered on the opening weekend. Since joining from Palmeiras, after winning Olympic gold, he’s been a fast starter — registering a first goal in his second appearance. However, that came midway through the 2016/17 season, Jesus’ previously scored his first goal of a new campaign in City’s third (2017/18) and second (2018/19) outing.
2017-18: ⚽️ GW 3
2018-19: ⚽️ GW 2
2019-20: ⚽️ GW 1
Gabriel Jesus is getting off the mark in the Premier League earlier and earlier each season. pic.twitter.com/g1UT4okz2p
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 10, 2019
This will now reaffirm his manager’s faith in him and if Jesus’ XG improves then he could be in the conversation for this season’s golden boot.
During 2018/19, when he registered seven goals across 29 league matches, the São Paulo-born striker underperformed in front of goal. He averaged 0.63 goals per 90, but given the quality of chances he was presented, Jesus was expected to produce 1.14 goals per 90.
We’ve yet to see the very best of Jesus but a new season equals new opportunity. Could this be the campaign in which he well and truly explodes into life and establishes himself as one of the world’s premier goalscorers? Guardiola will be hoping so. If Jesus can discover a clinical streak subsequently taking some of the burden off Aguero and Raheem Sterling then City’s title rivals could be in even bigger trouble.