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No goals in eight games for Jesus: Should Arsenal be worried about their struggling striker?

11:00 GMT+3 05/11/2022
Gabriel Jesus Arsenal 2022-23 HIC 16:9
After a sensational start to the season, the goals have dried up for the Gunners' big summer signing from Manchester City.

When Mikel Arteta was asked about Gabriel Jesus’ barren run in front of goal on Thursday night, he barely allowed the journalist to finish his question before barking out a response.

“That’s going to change,” the Arsenal boss said without hesitation. “It will come, he needs to be patient.”

After such an impressive start to life at Arsenal, which saw Jesus score five times in his first nine appearances following his summer move from Manchester City, the goals have dried up.

The striker’s blank against FC Zurich in the Europa League on Thursday was his eighth in a row in all competitions since he found the net in the North London Derby against Tottenham on October 1.

Since then Jesus has gone 589 minutes without scoring. A statistic few would have imagined given the way he started the campaign for the Gunners.

So is it something Arsenal should be worried about ahead of Sunday’s crucial Premier League clash at Chelsea? Not according to Arteta.

“He’s getting the situations, he’s getting the chances and he’s contributing to the team an awful lot,” said the Spaniard. “He’s helping to win matches. 

“The way he competes for every ball in every single action is incredible.

“He’s been through this in the past. He needs to learn lessons and not stop doing those other things that he’s doing so well, because that’s going to maintain the level of him and the team.”

Arteta’s point is a good one.

Yes, it would be better for everyone at Arsenal for Jesus to find his scoring touch again soon. But, despite the run without a goal dragging on, there is very little to worry about.

With a bit more luck Jesus could have had a hatful in his last few games.

Against Zurich he looked certain to score early in the second half, only for his goal bound shot to glance the back of the shoulder of goalkeeper Yanick Brecher and deflect over the top.

Brecher knew nothing about it, but that’s just the way things are going for Jesus at present.

If he were one inch taller he would have also scored a tap-in at the back post following Ben White’s flick on at the weekend against Nottingham Forest.

The opportunities have been there and as cliche as it sounds, there would be far more to worry about if Jesus was not getting in the position to score during this current run.

“If he makes three assists in a game, I don’t think he has to make any adjustments,” Arteta said, pointing to the contribution Jesus made against Forest last Sunday without scoring himself.

The statistics show that there has been a slight drop in output during the barren run, which is perhaps understandable given Jesus' confidence will have been hit.

In his last eight games his expected goals tally sits at 2.24, that’s compared to 5.77 during his first nine appearances when the goals were flowing freely.

He’s had 10 shots on target, compared to 15 during the opening nine games of the campaign.

Perhaps the most notable statistic is that his touches in the box have fallen from 92 to just 61, a sign that he is dropping slightly deeper to get involved in play rather than sitting on the shoulder of the defence.

But while his goal output may have dried up, his determination to help others has arguably increased.

He’s picked up three assists during his eight-run period without a goal and has an expected assists tally of 1.39, up from 0.81 in the first nine games of the season.

“He makes our job a lot easier,” Gabriel Martinelli said on Wednesday, while discussing his fellow Brazilian. “I think everyone loves what he brings to the team.

“He’s just 25, but he’s an experienced player. He’s a very good guy and one of the captains as well.

“Everyone loves him.”

There is no doubt that Arsenal want to see Jesus scoring again.

The fact Arteta left him on for the full 90 minutes against Nottingham Forest last weekend and then started him against Zurich on Thursday night was a sign that the manager is keen to give him as many opportunities as possible to end his barren run.

Jesus was brought to Arsenal to score goals, to make the difference up top. When he’s not doing that, then the team will be worse off.

But the fact is he is still contributing enough in other areas for his form not to be a major concern and all the signs suggest it is only a matter of time before the goals start flowing again.

For Arsenal and Jesus, there would be no better place for that to happen than Stamford Bridge this Sunday.