Kevin Campbell has backed Gabriel Jesus to be a game-changer for Arsenal this term and expects manager Mikel Arteta will lean on his ‘unknown factor’ in the title race.
The 26-year-old opened his account for the season in Arsenal’s 3-1 win against Manchester United on Sunday. Arteta presented Jesus as a 76th-minute substitute for Eddie Nketiah and saw his decision pay off in stoppage time. The striker beat Andre Onana in the 101st minute.
Jesus kept his cool to calmly fool Jonny Evans to evade the 35-year-old’s desperate lunge to slot past Onana. Fabio Vieira had released the striker with an inch-perfect ball to put Arsenal 3-1 up in the last seconds. Declan Rice scored to give the Gunners a lead in the 96th minute.
Jesus opened his account as Arsenal beat Manchester United
Arteta is yet to start Jesus in the Premier League this season as the forward required surgery on the eve of the 2023/24 campaign. The 59-cap Selecao striker felt some discomfort in the same knee that he injured at the World Cup. It forced a minor operation to resolve his issue.
The surgery kept Jesus out of Arsenal’s Community Shield win over Manchester City and the first two games of the Premier League term. He returned to action in stoppage time against Fulham as the Gunners drew 2-2. Arteta only brought Jesus on with his fifth and last change.
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Campbell tips Arteta to lean on Jesus ‘a bit more’ in the title race
Campbell now admits that he was ‘not happy’ that Jesus needed surgery for an injury before Arsenal’s season even started. But the Gunners hero will ‘take it’ if it means the attacker can stay fit for the season as he will be crucial for Arteta’s squad to win the Premier League title.
The former Arsenal striker further feels Arteta must lean on Jesus ‘a bit more’ in 2023/24 to usurp Manchester City. Campbell believes the Brazilian is up to the challenge after hitting 11 goals in 26 Premier League games last term. His knee surgery kept Jesus out of 12 matches.
“I think we’re going to have to lean on Jesus a bit more this season,” Campbell told Highbury Squad. “I’m not happy that he had this injury early. But if that means we can have him fully fit for the rest of the season, I’ll take it.
“You could see what he can do. He’s such a great player and he makes other players better. He can drop a shoulder and change a game and if he can keep scoring goals. He got double figures last season and he was out for three months!
“If he can get five, 10 goals in those three months, in comparison, he’s probably be near 18, 20 goals. That’s what we need. We need somebody who’s going to be top goalscorer as our main guy if we’re going to usurp Man City. He’s got that unknown factor he can produce.”