Friday, May 24, 2024

Jesus pinpoints turning point in Arsenal’s season

While lots of Arsenal players have expressed regret at the way last season’s title challenge collapsed, few, if any, have explicitly stated why they think it happened.

For Gabriel Jesus, the answer is clear; William Saliba got injured and the team started leaking more goals.

As explanations go, it’s an assessment most supporters will get on board with.

“When he [Saliba] plays, we concede few goals, when he doesn’t play, the number [of goals conceded] increases,” said Jesus in an interview with ex-Brazil star Denilson [not our one].

“When I got injured, Eddie [Nketiah] replaced me very well. Then we signed Leo [Trossard] and we kept the pace. But when Saliba got injured, it was complicated.

“The other defenders are good, but we were playing in a certain way. Look at the stats we concede a lot less with him”

Saliba’s partnership with fellow centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes was the envy of the Premier League in the first half of the season as the Gunners soared to the top of the table.

When the France international limped off with a back problem in the second leg of Arsenal’s Europa League knockout tie with Sporting Lisbon in March, few expected it to be a season-ending injury. But that’s what it proved to be.

Compounding the situation, Takehiro Tomiyasu suffered a knee injury minutes later and for the remaining 11 games, Mikel Arteta was forced to turn to Rob Holding and new signing Jakub Kiwior.

The stats speak for themselves. With Saliba in the side, Arsenal won 78% of their league games conceding on average 0.9 goals per game. Without him, the success rate was down to 45% as goals rained in at a rate of 1.63 per game.

It was painful but a learning experience. Arsenal are set to announce the signing of Jurrien Timber in the coming days as they look to sure up the right side of defence. Coupled with the return to fitness of Saliba and Tomiyasu, who have both been spotted in pre-season, training, supporters will be hoping things tighten up again at the back.

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Agreed. Other factors involved but his loss was massive. Especially coupled with Tomiyasu’s absence.

Sign da ting big Willy.

Heavenly Chapecoense

That was nice to Holding. I would have expected miracles from Jesus when he came back. Didn’t happen.


Update: Charles Watts says he’s signed already. Nothing official as far as I can see via Arsenal. I know the noises have been good for a while but still it will be a relief to see the standard photo with pen in hand


What a humble and cool guy Jesus is. Basically saying Willy is more irreplaceable than he is. Loving our team first mentality throughout the team! COYG!!!

A Different George

Gabriel Jesus is a really good player, and he made a huge difference in the way Arsenal played in the first half of last season (when, remember, we had a pretty incredible 50 points). Currently, Saliba is also a very good player, maybe on roughly the same level of quality, though not as polished. But–of course, this is probably a foolish thing to say–I believe Saliba has shown that in the next few years he could become much more–one of the best centre halves in the world. I think that is what Gabriel Jesus was implying as well.


So he’s saying it’s Holdings fault then…?


He didn’t say that but by your logic he also said you’re the type of fan we can do without.


This is why I should refrain from posting on forums. The sarcasm is often missed by sanctimonious keyboard warriors like yourself…

Emi Rates

Yep! Holding did it. Get him!


Cut his hair!!!

Merlin’s Panini

Don’t have to be a genius to see that. It was almost immediately obvious. The double whammy of Tomiyasu also being out made it much more difficult to play our game. Had Tomiyasu been fit he could’ve played on the right with White in the middle, or vice versa. But Saliba was without doubt the biggest blow as it was already evident Tomiyasu had become injury prone. Timber coming in should mitigate against these issues in the coming season. If we were to keep the squad as it is right now, and sold players like Sambi, Holding, Elneny I think… Read more »


I know the media have mentioned a youngster called Sousa, dont know much about him, but would be great to bring another youngster threw.


I wonder what people out here would constitute as a successful season for Jesus? I am a bit I doubt myself and I would not consider last season reaching full redemption due to the bad injury. Are we talking 20+ goal contributions? Less? More? 🤷‍♂️


This might sound crazy but I think he can get to 20 goals and 10 assists, even more. He was basically on pace to do that last season if he had played the full season. He’s crazy talented I think the finishing is just a mental thing which he can overcome.

Heavenly Chapecoense

“The finishing is just a mental thing which he can overcome”, but Balogoun has been kind of saying “I have the mentality to do it. Allow me or else”.


Some people have it from a young age, some (e.g. Henry, van Persie, Ramsey) develop it over time


I really don’t care if he scores at all. As long as someone does. If he gets 35 assists, and we win the league after having Kiwior score 20, and Rambo take our penalties, I honestly don’t care. In the best way possible.

That said, I’d love him to get a whole bunch. He deserves it.


If all of the attacking players get 20+ goal involvements that will be good enough.

Jesus causes lots of problems for the opposition in and around the box (particularly before his injury). It doesn’t matter who gets the goal or assist.


This is stupid finger-pointing. We were leaking goals with Willy as well. We leaked two against Villa, United, and Bournemouth. The difference is we stopped making the difference in attack after Saliba’s injury. Jesus is one to talk. He fumbled at least three good scoring chances against Southampton. He missed the goal against Liverpool that would have restored our two-goal lead at 2-1. Saka missed the penalty that would have seen us win against West Ham. All these were instances where the attack failed to bail the defense out like it did when Saliba was playing. True, we built better… Read more »


Unfortunately, the stats plainly stated in the article (you did read it, right?) shot your argument full of holes before you even composed it.


Does the article cover the point that we shipped two goals against Bournemouth and Villa? Games in which Saliba was partly responsible for both goals conceded?

This was in the periods leading to the eventual collapse right? In the three games I mentioned, we managed to score three to be able to win. With Jesus back, we flunked in attack, so didn’t win.

It’s simple.


I agree, way too simplistic. But you make it a bit simplistic too, our attacking became a bit impotent there towards the end for sure, some of our attacking players clearly lost some of their “va va voom” they had earlier in the season. And also losing Saliba and Partey becoming a shell of himself messed up both our defending and our ability to get out of pressure and build play. It’s a mix of factors, pinning it just on losing Saliba is being a bit blind to everything else we need to work on.


I’m sorry, but the points I raised weren’t simplistic because, even though our attacking style was modified, we still created lots of big chances that were missed by forwards. We score four times against Leeds and Palace. We should have scored at least four times against Liverpool, Southampton and West Ham. It wasn’t our build up that suffered thanks to Saliba’s absence. I can’t even pinpoint what suffered because, like I said, we’d been shipping goals since the world cup with Saliba in the team. What changed, simply, is that people like Jesus missed big chances that would pass as… Read more »

Ellis McPickle

I think maybe you’re missing the point. Arsenal did indeed concede goals before Saliba, but we factually conceded more when he was injured, as described in the article. As for the failure of the attack to make up for it, you said it yourself that he’s (Saliba) is crucial to the playing style. If the defense is the foundation of how we play, losing a key player without a replacement with the same level and skillset is obviously going to affect the effectiveness of the team as a whole.


We kept creating chances after Saliba was out. We scored four times against Leeds and Palace. We should have scored more goals against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton if Jesus wasn’t repeatedly fluffing his lines.

In fact, at doing the basics, Holding was one of the better players in that run-in.

I would bet anything that Jesus misses the chance Holding scored against City. I mean, see his misses against Southampton? He’s one to talk.

Ellis McPickle

I don’t know what you’re getting at. Do you just want to rage at something? It’s universally accepted that the team was noticeably weaker and less cohesive without Saliba.


Just because a lot of people think something is one way doesn’t make it true.

We were weaker, yes. But that’s not where the league was lost. The league was lost when players like Jesus stopped finishing sitters.


I agree, too simplistic. But you make it a bit simplistic too, our attacking lost its potency a bit there towards the end for sure, some of our attacking players clearly lost some of their “va va voom” they had earlier in the season. And also losing Saliba and Partey becoming a shell of himself messed up both our defending and our ability to get out of pressure and build play. It’s a mix of factors, pinning it just on losing Saliba is somewhat ignoring everything else we need to work on.


agreed! jesus also needs to assess his performance. he was brought in to win the title also and he had glaring misses that would have changed games.

arteta should have changed the setup once saliba got injured but it was the same lineup and play every time even during the bad patch.
only when it was too late that kiwior was included.


He was brought in to get us in the CL spot . If we keep buying players surplus to requirements to citeh we will never win the league.
Gladly that’s changed


Definitely a big part of it particularly with Gabriel having to do more so less available to cover our left side that was clearly being targeted. I still think we need a plan to sure up the left side though especially with Xhaka going. Can’t all be left to Rice (nor will it be, I actually think Mikel knows more than me 🤯).


Watching the games I would say that Arsenal had got complacent and relied on Saliba.
The transition in games was frightening no hold up by the forwards and midfield let attack’s develop.
They did not defend and there wasn’t the intensity.
Holding became the fall guy.
There was 10 other players.


The phrase is “to shore up,” not “to sure up.”

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