EPL

Arteta has high expectations for Jesus as new-look Arsenal prepare to make a statement

By Sports Desk August 04, 2022

Mikel Arteta expects Gabriel Jesus to offer a lot to Arsenal as the new-look Gunners hope to hit the ground running with an early statement of intent in the new Premier League season.

Arsenal had been in dire need of attacking reinforcements after allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leave mid-way through last season and then letting Alexandre Lacazette's contract expire.

Brazil international Jesus was quickly identified as a primary target and Arsenal sealed his £45million signing in early July, allowing him to link up with Arteta once again having worked together at Manchester City.

Some expressed doubts over Jesus being the right sort of player to fill the void given he had rarely been seen as dependable enough at City to be their first-choice striker – he spent most of last season playing on the right wing.

But he has looked extremely sharp in pre-season, scoring seven goals in five games, including a hat-trick in a 6-0 win over Sevilla last weekend.

While pre-season form may not count for a lot, Arsenal fans' expectations have understandably increased – not that Arteta is worried.

"When you bring top players, they're coming from top clubs and they've been extremely successful over the years, they're going to expect that [high expectations]," Arteta told reporters ahead of Friday's Premier League opener against Crystal Palace.

"The role Gabby has here is going to be very different to the role he had in his previous club, and need some time and adaptation.

"We're all surprised with how quickly he's done it [adapted], but we have to share that responsibility.

"He's an enormous talent and a player with a mentality that's so contagious and is going to give us a lot."

Jesus' arrival and early form have increased positivity around the club, and Arteta is seemingly setting his sights high.

"It's great that people are excited but there's a lot of excitement across the Premier League because a lot of clubs have done a lot of business, getting stronger and stronger, and the competition is really big. We're focusing on what we want to do, and we want to be at the top of that table," he added.

Another major change over pre-season was the appointment of Martin Odegaard as the club's new captain.

Lacazette had been captain until his departure, with the Frenchman taking the armband when Aubameyang was stripped of the role last year.

The Arsenal captaincy has been contentious in recent seasons, with Aubameyang not the first to seemingly struggle with the responsibility, but Arteta has a good feeling with Odegaard.

"This season we had the opportunity to do it in a way I believe could work, picking a player, Martin, who's been with us 18 months, who in my opinion represents values of the club in the perfect way," Arteta said.

"He's well respected by everyone in the team, he's admired by the staff, has experience even if he's 23 because [he is captain] for the national team [Norway], and then he's got that drive and passion for the game that he promotes every single day and in the way he plays.

"I'm very happy to have someone like him and he's onboard, enjoying the responsibility. He'll need support but it's a huge thing for him as well."

Arteta also delivered some positive injury news on the eve of the season's start. While Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Fabio Vieira and Emile Smith Rowe have been struggling with injuries in recent weeks, as many of three of them could travel to Selhurst Park.

However, Arteta would not reveal which is set to miss out.

"Good question," he said. "You'll find out tomorrow [Friday]."

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