It’s Step Up Time for Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah
The recent injury to Bukayo Saka has robbed Arsenal of their leading scorer. That means goals need to come from Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah right now.
Intangibles Aren’t Enough Anymore
It’s very difficult to imagine Saka playing against City. Furthermore, if he’s not 100% fit, it would be borderline managerial negligence to risk him. With Martinelli out too, the need for Gabriel and Eddie to start firing and become a lot more clinical with their chances, only becomes more pressing. The reality is that without the dynamic wing play of Saka and Martinelli, Arsenal will get less chances to score and become easier to defend.
Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Have Something to Prove
In Gabriel’s case, the main “knock” against him has always been that even though he possesses superior speed, ball handling and a high work ethic, he misses a few too many chances to be counted among the world’s elite center forwards. The other aspects of his game are all elite, but clinical, consistent scoring remains the the elusive last step in his development.
For his part, Eddie Nketiah has literally willed himself to get to this level. He does not have elite size, speed, or power. He does however, have a burning desire to be the best footballer he can possibly be, and that is a very admirable trait. Therein lies the conundrum. Where is Eddie’s ceiling? There is no shortage of scouts around the world who think Folarin Balogun has a much higher ceiling than Eddie NKetiah and that Flo should not have been sold.
Is that a fair assessment? Only time will tell. With that said, it’s a fact that Balogun has already done something Eddie has not: lead a line for a European club and pot 22 goals. Now, in fairness, Balogun put those numbers up in the same league where Nicolas Pepe scored 22 goals, and we know how that ended. However, giving both players the “eye test” makes one wonder if Arsenal wasn’t hasty in selling Balogun.
It’s Time to Step Up and Be Counted
Neither Jesus nor Eddie will be considered elite until they exhibit the cold, calculated ruthlessness that is a trademark of all the world’s best center forwards. How they perform over the next several weeks could go a long way towards shaping opinions about their status as footballers.
Eddie’s two goals from nine games isn’t nearly enough. Nor will it suffice for Gabriel Jesus to continue missing gaping nets like he did against Tottenham. There is only one way to silence the doubters: seize this opportunity to lead the Arsenal line like the elite forwards of the club’s past. If they don’t, one or both of them could wind up sitting behind Ivan Toney this January.
Arsenal need a talisman at center forward. Very few teams win championships without one. Regardless of how long Saka is out, the fate of Arsenal’s season may hinge on whether Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah take their games to the next level.
As Bob Marley once famously said, “Soon we’ll find out who is, the real revolutionaries”. Because there is nowhere for either of them to hide in Saka’s absence if he finally gets the rest he needs to recharge his batteries,
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