Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself with the headline.
It is more likely that Gabriel Jesus will be back in March, but this year Easter is in April and sometimes a good headline for a bit of fun is more important than the truth!
Reports are that he will be out for around 3 months. Not sure on the accuracy as he probably has not made it back to Arsenal yet.
I imagine he will fly to Dubai at some point this week to meet up with the Arsenal medical staff. A decision will then be made whether he needs immediate treatment, or can return to Qatar to remain with the Brazil squad.
Depending on the length of his injury will influence Mikel Arteta and Edu’s thinking. So what are the title chasers options?
Following a good end to last season, Eddie was given a big new contract.
5 goals in 7 games (although only scored in 3 of them), was enough to convince the powers that be that Nketiah still had a future at Arsenal.
During that period, he also showed an improved work rate and ball holding ability. Two things Arteta demands of his forward.
But under different circumstances, would Eddie have been offered that new contract?
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dumped in January, Arsenal’s two other strikers were also coming to the end of their contracts.
Arsenal could not afford to be strikerless, so a contract had to be offered to either Alexandre Lacazette or Eddie Nketiah. In the end the Englishman signed.
Was the new contract just a result of circumstances? Arsenal would not have wanted to go hunting for 2 new strikers in the summer and Nketiah was the cheaper option of the two.
Nketiah stepped up in the closing stages of last season. Can he do the same in the middle of this?
In recent weeks, we have discussed whether we should be targeting a new striker or winger in January. Prior to the Jesus move, many agreed that it was a winger we had to focus on.
Jesus’s injury may have led some to change their mind and that we should now prioritise a striker.
Edu showed last winter that he has a long term transfer strategy and is unwilling to make short term moves. But top of the league at Christmas, he might have to show a more flexible approach and do what is best for the next 6 months.
The issue Edu and his team face is “what decent strikers are available in January?”
There is a dearth of top strikers out there, and anyone decent would probably be unlikely to move. It would also take a while for a striker from abroad to acclimatise to the Premier League, and by the time they get their feet Jesus could return.
Another option could be that we ensure we get the winger we need, which could free up Gabriel Martinelli to play up top.
For a long time, I thought Martinelli’s future could lie playing down the middle rather than on the wing. He played much of his debut season for us as a central striker, scoring 10 goals.
He certainly has the attributes to replace Jesus. Martinelli is a fantastic finisher, shows good movement in the box and has fantastic work rate.
If Martinelli moved centrally, Arsenal could look at the returning Emile Smith Rowe to play left wing.
The England youngster has missed most of this season injured, but contributed 11 goals last season from the left hand side.
Smith Rowe would then be backed up by the planned winger we were targeting to sign in January.
Mykhailo Mudryk is the name on everyone’s lips.
Signing the Ukrainian and the return of Smith Rowe would leave us with the dual choice of Nketiah and Martinelli down the middle whilst not taking too much of a risk out wide.
Some will call for Folarin Balogun to be recalled from his loan spell in France. The youngster has been in fantastic form for Reims, scoring 8 goals in 15 games.
However, reports are Arsenal did not include a recall clause in the loan deal. That means he will remain in France for the duration of the season.
Personally, I would keep with our existing January plans and utilise Martinelli down the middle.