Jesus is back and Trossard's flying, so who misses out in Arsenal's attack?

Comments (0)
Jesus Trossard Saka Martinelli Arsenal GFX
Gunners manager Mikel Arteta has some tricky decisions to make when it comes to his forward line as the season enters its final months

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta couldn’t keep the smile off his face when he was asked how he is going to keep all of his forwards happy following the long-awaited return of Gabriel Jesus. “It’s a great problem to have,” he laughed. “Believe me.”

And it’s no surprise that Arteta is feeling good about his attacking options right now, because it was only a couple of weeks ago that he was struggling to find the numbers for his frontline.

In the space of a few days he lost Eddie Nketiah and Leandro Trossard to injury, with the pair joining Jesus on the sidelines.

🏆 TOP STORY: The incredible list of NXGN 2019 wonderkids

📣 HAVE YOUR SAY: Will Liverpool finish in the top four?

🚨 MUST READ: Casemiro risks derailing Man Utd's season

But Arsenal welcomed back Jesus and Trossard at Fulham on Sunday, and Nketiah could return from his ankle problem after the international break. Suddenly, Arteta has real strength in depth up front, as was evident at Craven Cottage.

And he has players who can give him real flexibility in terms of where they can operate, too.

  1. Sharing the burden

    Sharing the burden

    “We have alternatives that can play in different positions,” Arteta said. “And we have different roles to fill in relation to the chemistry of the players and what we ask them to do.”

    Arsenal had to cope without Jesus for three months due to the knee injury and they did it impressively well.

    They were five points clear at the top of the Premier League when he got injured. When he returned after a 12-game absence, they were still five points clear. Many felt Arsenal’s title challenge would fall away without Jesus, but that has not been the case.

    Gabriel Martinelli now has 12 league goals for the season, Bukayo Saka has 11 and Martin Odegaard - who scored the third goal in Sunday’s 3-0 success at Fulham - has 10.

    Only one other side in Europe’s top-five leagues, Paris Saint Germain, have three players who have reached double-figures for the season, and that says a lot about Arsenal’s squad.

    They have shared the burden as a team and now they also have the incredibly impressive Trossard to add into the mix following his January move from Brighton.

  2. Trossard’s instant impact

    Trossard’s instant impact

    It was the Belgium international who was the star of the show at Craven Cottage, setting up all three goals while operating in the false nine position in Arteta’s fluid frontline.

    Trossard now has five assists and one goal from his first nine league games for the Gunners. He has slotted into his new surroundings with ease, and is making it very hard for Arteta to leave him out.

    But with Jesus now fit, Arteta is going to have to leave someone disappointed if the Brazilian is to come back into the starting XI.

    For now, however, that is not something Trossard is worried about. In fact, the 28-year-old insists that he is relishing the extra competition.

    “A lot,” he said, when asked after Sunday’s win if he was looking forward to battling with Jesus for a starting spot. “I had it already when I arrived here. It’s not that I went into the starting XI from the first week. I had to fight for it. 

    “I think we have such a good group and competition is that high that, as you saw in the last few weeks, we need everyone to win games. That’s what it is all about. That’s how you can win things.”

  3. Easing Jesus back

    Easing Jesus back

    It’s unlikely that Jesus will start a game before the international break, so Arteta might have a little time yet before he has to make some difficult decisions.

    Given the ex-Manchester City man has been out for so long, it’s expected he will be eased back in slowly over the next couple of games. He got 13 minutes plus stoppage time at Fulham, and Arteta will look to step up those minutes against Sporting C.P. on Thursday and Crystal Palace on Sunday.

    But the league leaders don’t want to take any risks. As much as they want Jesus fully up to speed, they are aware that they can’t afford to push him too hard after such a long spell on the sidelines. “He needs to earn his place like anyone else in the team,” Arteta said, while discussing Jesus’ return.

    When fully fit, the expectation is that Jesus will be the man who leads the forward line during the crucial title run-in following the international break. With Saka and Martinelli either side of him, his experience when the pressure ramps up is seen as key to Arsenal’s title hopes.

    But what Trossard’s arrival and subsequent form means is that Arteta now has genuine options that can help get Arsenal over the line. He’s in a stronger position now than he ever has been thanks to players returning and some shrewd business in the transfer market. 

    No wonder he’s struggling to keep the smile off his face!