Gabriel Jesus has sparked Arsenal’s ‘winning mentality’, claims Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta praised Gabriel Jesus for bringing some much‑needed “spark” to Arsenal, who have won their opening three league games for the first time since 2004-05 after finishing last season by limping into fifth place.
“We now have a new confidence, a spark, and that winning mentality that he has,” Arteta said of the £45m signing from Manchester City after Jesus bullied the Bournemouth debutant Marcos Senesi before going on a mazy run to help set up his side’s opener and providing an assist for Martin Ødegaard’s second. “He competes for every ball and transmits his energy and his quality to the rest of the team.”
Jesus would have had a late goal of his own but for fractionally mistiming his run. “He didn’t score but again he was involved in all the goals,” Arteta said. “He had a goal disallowed unfortunately but he was in every action.”
Jesus is only 25 but has won the Premier League title four times, the FA Cup once and the Carabao Cup three times during his time at the Etihad. In Arteta’s eyes that makes him a leader. “He knows how hard it is to win in football, how much you have to put into it,” the Arsenal manager said. “He is still young, but he is experienced and I think he is a really good role model for the rest of the boys.”
While Jesus missed out, the defender William Saliba scored his first Arsenal goal. Imperious at the back and perfect with the ball – all 76 of his attempted passes found his own teammates – Saliba sweetly struck Arsenal’s third from the edge of the box having been set up by Granit Xhaka.
“We’ve been training that all week,” said Arteta with a laugh, before admitting he was as surprised as anyone. “A moment of quality nobody expected. It was great, I’m so happy for the boy. We all said: ‘Don’t shoot with your left from there,’ but perhaps it’s better to stay mute!
“But a clean sheet is the most important thing for a defender. If you score a goal it is a bonus but they are doing what they need to do; they need a clean sheet every game.”
Asked whether Arsenal’s flying start would change his transfer window plans, Arteta responded: “We know where we are short, where we have to add more firepower. If we can do it, we will do it.”