Arteta confirms 'phenomenal' Gabriel Jesus is 'not far' from return
Mikel Arteta confirms that ‘phenomenal’ Gabriel Jesus is ‘not far’ from a return to the first-team… but the Brazilian will ‘need to earn his place’ after facing three months out with a knee injury
- Arsenal go into Saturday’s clash with Bournemouth five points clear at the top
- Arteta’s side beat Everton 4-0 in an emphatic win at the Emirates on Wednesday
- Jesus is not far from a return, Jorginho is fit again while Nketiah is a doubt
Mikel Arteta believes the absence of Gabriel Jesus forced other Arsenal players to step up, standing them in good stead for the title race.
Jesus is ‘not far’ from returning from knee surgery that has kept him out since the World Cup.
There were fears his injury could derail Arsenal’s season but ahead of Saturday’s visit of Bournemouth, Arteta’s side sit five points clear of Manchester City.
The manager said that gives him more confidence that Arsenal can cope with injuries between now and the end of the season.
‘We knew the importance of Gabi, what he was bringing to the team and the way he transformed this period and the belief and in the end the level of performance we could reach,’ Arteta said.
Mikel Arteta has confirmed that long-term absentee Gabriel Jesus is ‘not far’ from a return to first-team action
Gabriel Jesus was pictured returning to training earlier this week but is still not ready to return
‘But to be fair the team took a step forward, individual players took more responsibility and they were really keen to maintain that level. We have done that so far, it’s really pleasing to see players are not looking for an excuse or look aside and expect someone else to do it, but they took initiative and developing those leadership qualities is really important.’
Eddie Nketiah is nursing an ankle problem, with Arteta admitting: ‘It’s a bit uncertain what’s going to happen with him, to be honest.’
There is confidence that it’s not a major injury but it means Arsenal are likely to face Bournemouth without a senior No 9 in their squad.
Jesus has yet to resume to contact training and the timeline of his return should become clearer over the next week.
‘He’s not very close but he’s not far at all,’ Arteta said.
‘He’s feeling better every day and the doctors are confident with the way the injury is evolving. We are in a good place with him, I think.’
Arteta added: ‘His mentality is incredible and the team has done a really good job with him to put him in the position he’s in today.’
Arsenal increased their gap on Manchester City to five points with a 4-0 win against Everton on Wednesday
Following a blip, Arsenal have re-established a five-point advantage with three straight wins. But the manager insisted: ‘There’s much more to come. We can do things much better in many aspects of the game, and we still have players with immense growth potential individually and collectively, and as a club as well there are a lot of things we can do much better.
‘That’s the aim – we have to be really seeking that excellence and professionalism and trying to recruit the best people and all the time have the right mindset to achieve that level.’
The Gunners host Bournemouth on the back of hammering Everton 4-0, thanks to a brace from Gabriel Martinelli and one each for Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard.
Arsenal will be playing after Manchester City, who will attempt to close the gap to two points when they face Eddie Howe’s high-flying Newcastle in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off.
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