Mikel Arteta sends warning to Gabriel Jesus after Arsenal return
Mikel Arteta discusses Gabriel Jesus' return to the Arsenal team after the Gunners' 3-0 victory at Fulham
Mikel Arteta has warned Gabriel Jesus that he must earn his place in the Arsenal starting line-up after he made his long-awaited return from injury on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Brazil international came on to play the final 13 minutes of the Gunners’ 3-0 victory at Fulham as he made his first appearance since suffering a knee injury during his country’s 1-0 loss to Cameroon at the World Cup back in December.
Gabriel Jesus will now be hoping to get himself back to full match fitness as he bids to help the Gunners continue their Premier League title charge.
However, Arteta has insisted that the former Manchester City star will have to prove himself as worthy of a spot in the first team like the rest of his squad.
Asked about the attacker’s return to action, Arteta told his post-match news conference on Sunday: “[It’s a] big boost. His first steps today and we didn’t know whether it was the right game for him today. A few days ago, he told me he was missing something and then yesterday he looked me in the eyes and told me he was ready.
“Then today we had the opportunity to throw him in because it’s that first step to give him the boost. He looked free and generated two big chances straightaway, and it’s great to have him back.”
When asked who Gabriel Jesus could replace in the starting line-up, Arteta replied: “Now he needs to earn his place like anyone else in the team.
“We have alternatives that can play in different positions and we have different roles to fill in relation to the chemistry of the players and what we ask them to do. It’s a great problem to have, believe me.”
Martin Odegaard netted Arsenal’s third goal with a thumping finish in first-half stoppage time at Craven Cottage. The Norway international has now netted 10 goals and made six assists in 26 Premier League games this season.
And former Liverpool FC midfielder Jamie Redknapp believes that Odegaard is the top player in his position in the Premier League at the moment.
“Right now he’s number one,” Redknapp said of Odegaard on Sky Sports. “Normally you would say [Kevin] De Bruyne is the best midfielder not just in the league but in the world, but something isn’t quite right.
“Odegaard does this thing, all great players possess it, it’s like time stands still when he has the ball. The calmness he possesses. He’s scored four or five goals like that with his left foot.
“He’s the captain, he’s the leader. I think he’s number one and he’s leading that team.”
Arsenal, who remain five points clear at the top of the table with 11 games to play, will take on Crystal Palace at home on Sunday afternoon.