One of the few positions that Arsenal have not signed from outside of the club during the Edu/Arteta era is striker, which is changing now with the signing of Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City.
This is an fascinating article to write. Normally the players Arsenal are signing are a bit more less well-known than Jesus and people have the ability to project and get excited about them. This signing, while very exciting to me, has been one that is polarizing. Perhaps that is the case often with players that are signed from within the League, and especially from teams that we as fans see as our rivals.
For the stats presented in this post, I will be comparing Jesus to forwards, but like many of the players Arsenal have been linked with the positions have been a bit fluid and are not perfect descriptors.
Gabriel Jesus: By the numbers
2.44 – Open play shots per 90, 77th percentile for forwards
0.8 – Shots in prime (within 12 meters) per 90, 51st percentile for forwards
0.33 – Non-penalty goals per 90, 51st percentile for forwards
0.43 – Non-penalty expected goals per 90, 68th percentile for forwards
0.99 – Shots on target per 90, 50th percentile for forwards
One of the big questions around Jesus is his finishing. I did a deep dive about this back at the end of April when Arsenal were first linked and came away basically that it is hard to say anything other than he is a below-average finisher, but even then it is still complicated.
He is slightly below expected finisher with his head (pretty good for his size) with 10 goals from 12 xG, he finishes well and takes a surprising amount of shots with his weaker left foot scoring 17 goals from 18 xG, and with his stronger right foot, he has scored 35 goals from 46 xG.
There will probably be frustrating misses for Jesus (but there are for all strikers) but hopefully, he continues to be a player that puts himself into good goal-scoring opportunities enough to make up for the misses.
1.55 – Open play key passes per 90, 92nd percentile for forwards
0.28 – Shot Assisted xG (xA) per 90, 87th percentile for forwards
0.38 – Assists per 90, 93rd percentile for forwards
3.71 – Shot creating actions (the two actions proceeding the creation of a shot) per 90, 92nd percentile for forwards
Jesus might have some questions about his finishing but outside of that it really does seem like he is a phenomenal player with the production that he is able to create. His creative numbers look very good, with one of his favorite zones the areas for high-quality cutbacks for teammates to run on to.
2.68 – Progressive passes per 90, 90th percentile for forwards
3.15 – Deep completions (passes within 25 meters of goal) per 90, 92nd percentile for forwards
77.88 – Progressive yards passing per 90, 86th percentile for forwards
5.68 – Progressive carries per 90, 90th percentile for forwards
2.07 – Dribbles completed per 90, 94th percentile for forwards
11.04 – Deep touches (within 25 meters of goal) per 90, 97th percentile for forwards
3.62 – Very Deep Touches (within 15 meters of goal) per 90, 91st percentile for forwards
7.19 – Progressive passes received per 90, 51st percentile for forwards
3.34 – Penalty box passes received per 90, 87th percentile for forwards
0.99 – Aerial duels won per 90, 21st percentile for forwards
2.63 – Aerial duels total per 90, 17th percentile for forwards
37% – Aerial duel win%, 39th percentile for forwards
35.93 – Pass Attempts per 90, 95th percentile for forwards
107 – Pass Efficiency (the ratio of actual pass completion compared to expected pass completion, 100 is completed as many passes as expected and higher is better), 98th percentile for forwards
0.43 – xG Buildup (the total xG where he was involved in the buildup play before the final pass or shot) per 90, 93rd percentile for forwards
0.3 – Goal probability added (my version of an expected threat, this measures how much the actions a player did that help or hurt the team’s chances of scoring) per 90, 97th percentile for forwards
As we round out the remaining attacking stats, I think we see a picture of a good all-around player. He is a player that looks like he wants to be involved in the build-up play, doing well to link with teammates, he is a good target for getting the ball up the field, and also a player with a very good understanding of how to get the ball in dangerous areas.
14.14 – Pressuers per 90, 34th percentile for forwards
3.43 – Successful pressures per 90, 30th percentile for forwards
6.44 – Attacking 3rd pressures per 90, 31st percentile for forwards
1.03 – Possession adjusted (I use possession adjustments to make it so that each player has the same number of defensive possession opportunities) successful tackles per 90, 79th percentile for forwards
1.9 – Possession adjusted interceptions plus blocked passes per 90, 97th percentile for forwards
4.43 – Possession adjusted ball recoveries per 90, 94th percentile for forwards
One of the interesting things is that Jesus’ pressure numbers look just okay, this might be a reflection of where Manchester City rank in terms of pressures (6th in attacking third, last in total pressures) because they have so much of the ball, their players don’t have the same chances to pressure opponents. Looking at the more traditional defensive metrics and adjusting for possession you can see a player that comes out looking very good for winning the ball back. My expectation is that Arsenal are comfortable with his pressing, this is something that has gotten him into the Brazil squad ahead of other forwards.
When I started looking at potential forwards for Arsenal one of the things that really became clear is that there are not a lot of strikers right now that don’t come with pretty big question marks that aren’t outside Arsenal’s price range (really only Mbappe and Haaland). Everyone else seemed to come with serious areas of weakness, questions about how their statistics and performance would translate from a ‘lower’ league to the Premier League or were on the downside of their prime with the risk of a sudden drop-off looming (aka the Aubameyang cliff).
Jesus has his questions, how much of his performance is down to super team effects at City and just how bad and big of an issue is his finishing. He does come with quite a lot of very good boxes checked as well, he is a very good all-around player who has played and excelled in the Premier League, in a system not dissimilar to what Arsenal wants to do, while also having the connections to Arteta and Edu.
The fee is on the high side for a player with one year left on his deal, but not crazy (and maybe a discount) for a player of his talent while buying from within the Premier League. I think that this is a move that comes with a relatively low risk of a flop while still having some good potential upside where he blossoms into one of the top all-around forwards in the League.
Sources: Opta, Statsbomb
Those adjusted pressure numbers are eye opening. Thanks for that!
Jesus, can we get top 4 if four points ahead, 3 games remaining at least the coming season?
Your comments are definitely helping with that wish. Eventually you might have to move on and accept what has happened is done. It might help you enjoy the present more
Fits our system like a hand in a glove
I feel that with him, Martinelli and Ödegaard we’ll have a pressure machine up top. His versatility is also gonna be helpful.
‘Below average finisher but complicated’ Great
Whilst his versatility is a huge plus- he’s come to Arsenal to be the main man.
What came before is interesting, but similar to Odegaard, this transfer could be transformational for both player and club.
My take on is reinforced by your article ( I love them by the way). We’re taking a gamble on a hard working likeable player. Probably the least talented of the 3 Brazilians we were linked to. He was the most promising at a young age but didn’t developed as hoped. As opposed to Raphina who is the most gifted of the 3 and with a character matching MA requirements but has his heart set somewhere else. Richarlidson probably the least manageable of the 3, happy he’ll disrupt Sp*ds dressing room. I hope he proves me wrong and smash it… Read more »
I watched all his goals for City and noted the following:
I especially like the fact that he’s good in the air – I lost count the number of times Lacazette bottled out of diving headers last season.
“A below average finisher”. Exactly what we don’t need.
Except if he’s creating more chances through his dribbling and movement. Then his less than average finishing of more chances results in the same number of goals as a better finisher.
Also below average against XG means some improvement could be expected just for him to ‘revert to the mean’. Maybe he’s suffered a little from confidence issues. I’ve got a good feeling about him. Fingers crossed
Eddie was a “below average finisher” until his run of games at the end of last season. See if you can work out why.
The most important stat is games missed. He doesn’t miss many games through injury. Advanced metrics mean nothing if the player spends half the season watching from the stands with soft tissue injuries. Tierney and Partey exhibit A and B.
At City, he didn’t miss games thru injury. Instead, he missed them thru being a “below average finisher”. Hence the 45 mil sale.
He would have been starting for us though.
This guy could work if he’s the Laca replacement while we search for the Auba replacement. However, if he’s the Auba replacement…nah…
The auba replacement is already in the squad. Martinelli could go ballistic this season, all he needs is a bit of composure in front of goal, he’s got everything else.
If the plan is to play Martinelli down the middle (a La Emery days when Martinelli was arguably at his best) with Jesus coming in off the right, then yeah, I’ll buy that. Somehow I don’t think Mikel sees Martinelli as a center forward and Jesus has just claimed no.9…
Think jesus is going to suprise you. I think he’s a very good player. He’s definitely the best option for us. The players people on here were calling for like isaac or osimhen would have been bigger gambles for a lot more money. I thought he was the perfect fit from the story 1st broke. I’m very confident he’s going to do well for us.
Well, funnily enough, he’s replacing Laca, so in your head it should register that we’re in for plenty of goals from him anyway…
City rotate heavily though. Why do you think Sterling doesn’t want to sign a new contract either?
In other words, he spent a lot of the time on the bench. A bit fucking difficult to score from there. Even you might be able to work that one out….
I wonder could one look ar Henry’s stats before he joined Arsenal?
(I dont do that sort of thing meself).
Henry was no world beater when he joined. AW turned him into one.
So many short memories ….
I ignore the stats – its all nonsense.
Thierry Henry’s stats at Juventus was no indicator of how his time at Arsenal would play out.
You just need to see how it pans out for him.
Personally I think he has the tools to be really successful at Arsenal..
Exactly. Previous figures are only an indication of a player’s performances in a different team, with different players, game time (which in his case was considerably shorter than what he will get at Arsenal) and playing position. It’s a gamble, but then every player you sign is. Did Ronaldo get Utd into the top four this time around? Did he fuck. Different team, different players, different manager. It ain’t rocket science…
Love the objectivity and context that your numbers give.
Hear so many varied opinions on Jesus. But I can rest assured that we should be in for an interesting evolution of both player and players around him
Spot on, mate.
Neither he or this Arsenal team are the finished article.
Which is why they will work so well together. Gifted athletes are at their most powerful when they remain humble and focused – The Invincibles are living proof of what can be achieved when all external ignorance (ie the media) is banished and real genuine self-belief (Wenger’s coaching philosophy for both player applications and style of play) is encouraged.
I’m hoping he spends a lot of time on the phone 😉
Him and Nketiah, both 🙂
Very interesting. According to the beeb “ He has scored in 42% of his Premier League starts – the 13th-highest ratio in the competition’s history among players with more than 50 Premier League starts.
His average of 159 minutes per goal also ranks favourably, being the 14th-best among players with 50 or more Premier League goals once penalties are removed from their tallies.”
He knows where the back of net is. End of.
My eyes glaze over when xg comes up. I’m excited to have him, he fits the team perfectly.
Like it because he is Arteta’s buy. I prefer that the manager gets his wish so that he spends more time on fixing system than fighting players. #COYG
Interesting that we lack goals but signed a ‘below average finisher’. If he does help to create, maybe his link up play with Saka/Martinelli/Odegaard/Vieira will help us get more goals overall as a team.