Gabriel Jesus says he and Eddie Nketiah are making each other better players and that his fellow striker fully deserves his recent call-up to the England senior squad.
Nketiah has looked very lively in his four appearances so far this season, scoring on the opening day against Nottingham Forest, winning the penalty that Martin Odegaard converted at Crystal Palace before coming off the bench to net in the 2-2 draw against Fulham.
While chances were thin on the ground against Manchester United, the 24-year-old’s hold-up play came to the fore as Arsenal left it late to secure the points in an enthralling encounter.
Having undergone a minor procedure on the knee that he injured at the World Cup, Jesus has mostly had a watching brief although he did grab his first goal of the season as a substitute on Sunday. He’ll be hoping for more game time after the Interlull.
Reflecting on the battle to be Arteta’s first choice attacker, Jesus told the Press Association: “First of all, competition is always good – for me and for him. In all positions when you have competition it’s a good thing.
“From day one, I’m a big fan of Eddie because of the way he works and the way he trains is amazing. It’s not easy to come from the academy at a massive club and fight to play in the first team.
“Congrats to him, he’s doing so well and he deserves to be called into the England national team.
“For me personally, it’s good competition. It’s always good for the club because for sure he’s making me better and I’m making him better as well.”
Nketiah heads to St George’s Park today for his first meet-up as a senior player. He faces stiff competition from a host of attacking talent at Gareth Southgate’s disposal but as the leading scorer at under-21 level, he’ll back himself if he gets a chance.
Jesus meanwhile, has a couple of weeks to focus on his fitness. He had looked sharp in pre-season, particularly in the 5-3 win over Barcelona in Los Angeles – Arteta even claimed the Brazilian was back to his best – but he soon had to go under the knife again.
For a player who missed a sizable chunk of the last campaign, it was clearly difficult to swallow.
“When I came back, in the first week, still nothing [on the pain front in his knee],” he reflected.
“Then after I started to feel it. And for me, it was (a case of) if I’m not 100 per cent, I won’t be myself. I was trying. Personally, I’m good with the pain, so I was keeping playing and training.
“I was feeling it a little bit, but for me it was nothing. But then we hit a point when I couldn’t run or move, so I decided to do a surgery and that was it.
He added: “The first day [after finding out you need surgery] is s**t when you just find out. Then the day after you realise you have to keep going, fighting and smile because I have a life.
“That was tough, but now I’m getting back. It’s so important to get the rhythm again, so, yeah. I’m back. I feel good and I’m happy.”