It is time that Jesus and Eddie started scoring more for Arsenal

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.

The worst fears of almost every Arsenal fan were realized when superstar Bukayo Saka pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury vs. Lens before limping off because he was unable. Almost immediately, the question of why Saka was on the pitch at all was burning up social media. The short answer is because Saka is Arsenal’s best player and most reliable goal scorer. That’s a problem. Now that he’s out, it’s time for Gabriel Jesus and Eddie NKetiah to step up and start scoring goals.
Correction: It’s time for them to step up an start scoring LOTS of goals. Yes, they press actively and work hard for the team. By all accounts they are both wonderful teammates, easy to coach, and a joy to be around. With that said, center forwards earn the bulk of their wages for scoring goals. Quite frankly, if Gabriel and Eddie had been doing that a little more reliably this season, Mikel Arteta may have felt confident enough to rest Saka vs. Lens.

Intangibles Aren’t Enough Anymore

It’s not that they have been poor this season. Their work rate and willingness to make plays has not diminished from last year. Yet, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that they have also missed a few too many chances that strikers on championship level teams would be expected to score this season (most recently in the North London Derby). If that continues in Saka’s absence, Arsenal could go tumbling down the table.

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.

That’s why Arsenal’s top two center forwards need to start seizing on every chance to score. Because goals change matches. Gabriel and Eddie with their hands on their head in shock after putting one wide of the post or over the bar doesn’t win football games. The truth is, top level forwards don’t hang their hat on intangibles like pressing an being good team mates. Despite having had good careers thus far, both Jesus and Nketiah have a lot to prove.

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,

Eric McConnell


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Tags Bukayo Saka Jesus Nketiah


  1. It’s about time we got a real striker with the ability to score goals, hold up the ball, terrorise defenders and is a genuine target man…Jus sayin.

  2. We all knew this already….and this is also why the absence of ESR has been questioned as 1 of our biggest goal threats from midfield.

    And to bring it back this is the reason Havertz signing was questioned so much. We had much more urgent needs to sign a striker and another DM. Especially a striker after MA sold the most natural striker we had in Balogun.

    1. 👍PJ-SA, misallocation of available transfer funds; £65 for Kai Havertz would have gone a fair way towards a CF with a goal threat.

  3. They are doing well in terms of goal scoring if you care to compare their mins/goal stats to saka’s. So yes i’m confident they’ll step up even further.

      1. I know! The article is talking about how both strikers can contribute more in the absence of our highest goal scorer who happens to be a winger and i gave a comparison to suggest that with more game time as Bukayo they’ll step up in his absence.

    1. Arteta and Edu knew that sooner than later, the team will find itself in this situation. The question should be: why did they refused to go for Saka’s sub or a striker that guarantees us goals yet, they sold Balogun?
      With little addition to 65M, arsenal would have gotten a 20+ goal striker. It would have been better and a smart business to have gone for Ivan Toney not minding his ban in the summer because we would have gotten him cheap.
      Saka is not a super human. He has carried the team for so long. At his age, it’s expected to have been managed better to avoid burn out. Arteta has no excuse. Much as Jesus and Nketia are expected to step up and score goals, Arteta should also step up and prove that he knows what he is doing by surviving without Saka. Guardiola is surviving without De Brune, stone and Grealish.

  4. Its plainly obvious and was when we bought Jesus, to play at CF, we would be limited to how we can play. Its being proven, the more we play, we need a PROPER no9. Mistakes made in the summer, not getting one in.

  5. Couldn’t be happier with Jesus, unfortunately some of our fans often suffer from memory loss. They have forgotten that Jesus, along with Zinchenko, immediately took us up a level upon their arrival.

    What is also forgotten is that Jesus suffered a big injury, and is why he hasn’t scored more.

    I guess he should have been scoring from the medical room?

  6. The author is 100% correct in his viewpoint, but doesn’t ask the question why we didn’t sign such a player in the summer, something I suggest most fans are wondering to this day!!

    Gabriel has so many other qualities in his game, that I believe MA’s signing of him was an excellent move and I don’t believe he signed him as a striker anyway.

    It’s the rewarding of new contracts for both Nketiah and Nelson that I question, along with the selling of Balogun.
    Nketiah is summed up perfectly in the article, his name is chanted and he gives 100% – but would he ever play for the likes of city or pool?

    Great article and a good read.

  7. Jesus is not a prolific goalscorer he averages around 10 goals per season over the 6 years in the EPL and Arteta knows this from his Man City days. Nketiah is a team player and always gives 100% but has never been prolific. I still don’t believe Arteta wants a traditional CF like Toney which is probably the reason he bought Havertz. This was Pep’s philosophy when Aguero left but then came an offer he couldn’t refuse – Haaland!!

  8. A lot has been said about our strikers lake of goal contributions but have we asked how many chances are being created for them. Our system of using inverted wingers favours wingers who cut inside to shoot. Odegaard doesn’t create meaningful chances to our strikers and our wingers rarely send in crosses.

    Odegaard is a good player and scores on his own but as an attacking midfielder how many chances does he create. We can buy another striker but if the system remains the same then nothing will change.

    Our full backs also do not have any meaningful attacking play. Strikers feed on chances which at Arsenal they are not presented with. Many games we blame Nketiah but with careful analysis how many chances would he have presented with?

    Our other weakness is that we lack a striker with a different style to Nketiah and Jesus for plan B. Someone like Antonio who is big and bustling who will offer a different dimension if plan A fails to work and who will also allow the coach to use different systems against different teams. At City Halaand and Alvarez are completely different players who give the opposition different problems to deal with.

    1. So are you, therefore, suggesting that everyone else, along with MA, are letting the strikers down?
      If that’s the case, do we need a different manager, a different style of play, a different squad in order to get Nketiah (or whoever you class as a striker) playing as a goal scorer?

      1. How many good chances does Odegaard create for the strikers per game. We need to work with figures here. Despite playing as substitutes Nelson and Vieira have a better production rate per minute of play. All who are saying Nketiah misses chances and can’t control the ball must bring forward videos of the many chances he is failing to utilise. You can’t blame someone for getting 1 or 2 chances and missing them. Our midfielders and wingers must provide chances for strikers to feed on.

        It’s always common in games our strikers have to drop deep to look for the ball as they are starved of service. Odegaard sometimes goes missing for long periods of time.

        We need a playmaker who dictates play and who makes those around him better. It is Saka who makes Odegaard better.

    2. Often, one of the first things Odegaard looks for when he gets the ball in the final 1/3 is a ball into the box. Bring in a guy like Toney (any target man), and you’ll see his assists go way up. It’s so frustrating watching our wingers and Odegaard get in great crossing positions, and there’s no one in there available or capable. Couple that w our possession philosophy, that’s a big reason why the ball gets recycled so much.

      I suspect Arteta knows this and is part of the reason why he bought Havertz. I do think Havertz will end up being a piece of the puzzle, but there’s no question we need a target man.

      1. Drayton, Nketiah appears to be poor at reading play and making runs into space. Nelson appears better in this fundamental, in my view. A good centre forward makes many unsuccessful runs until finally one brings a scoring opportunity. How many times this season have we seen good crosses and through balls with no one on the end of them? Players tend to wait too long to find a pass, get frustrated and end up losing possession, because of forwards not making runs and poor positional play.

        1. I would also add that Nketiah’s control at times isn’t great. He’s not the best technically.

          It is what it is – he’s a squad player, and wouldn’t be playing as much if it wasn’t for an injury crisis since day one.

    3. If we sign Toney you will see Odegaard’s assist numbers rise. Odegaard does create chances but much of the time they go begging, he creates more than he scores at the very least

  9. It’s our gameplay that makes normal positional ST to struggle. He needs to drop back for buildup play and able to interchange with the wingers. And he must be super fit to press for 90mins. Jesus is 26 and Nketiah is 24. Both still got time to improve.

  10. Charles Darwin once said it’s not strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one most adaptable to change, such is the state of our Brazilian talisman.

    Complete dominance in posession, progressing the ball with short but accurate passes and playing a large part of the game in the final third is a blue print of creating chances and scoring goals from all parts of the pitch.

    It is a another powerful midfielder as opposed to a striker Arsenal needs to maintain a sustained attack, that will enable us in wrestling away that big jug.

  11. Drayton, Nketiah appears to be poor at reading play and making runs into space. Nelson appears better in this fundamental, in my view. A good centre forward makes many unsuccessful runs until finally one brings a scoring opportunity. How many times this season have we seen good crosses and through balls with no one on the end of them? Players tend to wait too long to find a pass, get frustrated and end up losing possession, because of forwards not making runs and poor positional play.

  12. I still think selling Balogun was a mistake. The guy was a real goal scorer and I will never understand what problem exactly Arteta had with him. Arsenal sold him without giving him a proper season/half season to see what he can give. Agreed, the French League is not as tough and competitive as the PL but atleast he should have been given a proper chance to prove himself. Hope we sign a striker this January, either Toney or Watkins.

  13. Versatility is great, but sometimes you need someone who is a master at 1 craft.
    Giroud was a master of holdup play, and was an aerial threat in the box.

    We need a plan B option, “Versatility” in how we attack; we seem 1 dimensional with Jesus and Edie.

    A plan B striker gives up options; replacing Jesus at times, and Jesus as an option on the wings.

    Also, I would love an upgrade at striker, Victor O. to replace Jesus and Jesus can still get time as a backup striker and compete on the wings.

    1. Imagine a younger Giroud playing for this time, surrounded by the likes of SaKa,MØ, Martinelli… he’d easily score 15-20 goals a season and a few assists too.

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