Saturday, April 1, 2023

What Gabriel Jesus did to hand Mikel Arteta major Leandro Trossard Arsenal dilemma for Leeds

For a rare occasion in 2023, Mikel Arteta is faced with a significant attacking dilemma for the Gunners’ Premier League return against Leeds United. Through injuries to Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah, Arteta’s chosen front four has essentially picked itself, but five attackers are available for Saturday’s clash.

For the first few months of the year, Nketiah was the man in place of the injured Jesus before he then was forced to undertake a spell on the side lines. The January addition of Leandro Trossard seemed significantly important at the time and the drop in form of Gabriel Martinelli and Nketiah very quickly proved the value he added to the squad.

On his first start for the Gunners, Trossard scored against Brentford and in the following weeks provided many crucial assists, including a hat-trick of contributions against Fulham.

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The London derby against the Cottagers was also significant for Jesus as it was his first outing since the knee injury suffered at the World Cup in December. The 25-year-old then enjoyed cameo brief appearances against Sporting CP and Crystal Palace before spending the past fortnight rebuilding his fitness at London Colney.

When asked at the pre-Leeds press conference whether or not Brazil international Jesus was close to 100 per cent, Arteta said: “He is very close to that, in the last 10 days he has really made a big step forward, you can see that he is looser and not thinking about it. He is creating the chaos in training that he is capable of, he is in a really good place now.”

Jesus is looking back to his best in training and will likely hand Arteta a significant team selection decision, not just for the fixture against Leeds, but also in the weeks thereafter. Martinelli has benefited significantly since Trossard’s inclusion, while Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka continue to impress.

Prior to Trossard joining, that quartet were all in excellent form which means the Spaniard is facing a challenging dilemma. Does he stick to the team that have built up a strong relationship in recent weeks and then bring Jesus on in the second half? Or, alternatively, he may revert back to the attack from earlier in the season now that Jesus is looking close to being back at his best.

Much will likely depend on how many minutes Arteta believes Jesus has in the tank with the following weekend’s clash with Liverpool likely close to the forefront of his mind.

Arteta will want his best possible team out for that clash at Anfield and Jesus will more than likely be in that XI, and with that in mind it could mean Jesus is set for a Premier League start for the first time in just under five months.

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