Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has admitted fans must be patient as they wait for Gabriel Jesus to return to his dazzling best after his latest knee injury.
A £45m signing from Manchester City last summer, Jesus made an instant impact at the Emirates with five goals and six assists in his first 14 Premier League games before a serious knee injury at the World Cup derailed his season.
He returned to net another six goals before the campaign ended but Jesus aggravated his knee problem during pre-season and was forced to undergo minor surgery once again. As a result, the Brazilian missed Arsenal‘s first two games of the campaign and has been used as a late-game substitute in the team’s last two outings as he seeks to rebuild his fitness.
Having managed to score the third in Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Manchester United before the international break, Jesus is pushing for a starting role when the Gunners take on Everton on Sunday, but Arteta pleaded for caution as he eases the striker back into action.
“If you look at the last six or seven months for Gabi, with the long-term injury he had and the amount of football that he missed, then he came back in preseason and he started to get his rhythm again, and then he had another injury, another surgery,” said Arteta.
“So we have to build him up. He is a tremendous player, a really important player for us. He changed our world last season. You could all see that. He is going to be a really important player for us.
“I think he brought a different energy, a different belief, a different threat, a different fear to opponents. And he did it in a really natural way. He contributed hugely to the step that we had last season.”
Another attribute which has endeared Jesus to Arteta is the 26-year-old’s ability to “create chaos”.
“In certain areas of the pitch, I love it. In other areas, I hate it,” he added. “So it’s where you produce that chaos. He obviously draws a lot of attention from opponents with the way he plays and creates space for others. That’s a big quality of his.
“When you sign a player that you know, who has done it in the league and has the hunger and right reasons to join us, it was a no brainer for us to do it. And you could see the impact he had on the team straight away.”
Arsenal have picked up ten points from their first four games this season and will fancy their chances of maintaining their unbeaten start to the campaign when they take on a struggling Everton side on Sunday.