According to the song that echoed from Craven Cottage’s away end, to the tune of Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Gabriel Jesus can turn water into wine with ease. Despite his absence barely being felt by a side whose supreme energy levels have not let up during his three months out injured, Arsenal still felt a sense of significance when he jogged on during this Thameside cruise.
After Mikel Arteta’s players had swamped Fulham and ensured victory was beyond doubt, he returned with a new flex in a symbolic return.
Comments demonstrated his confidence in the signing of Jesus last summer – a trust that the player’s star power and skill would inspire others around him, and turn them into winners. The move has paid off, as they have been displaying an energy, accuracy and determination that wasn’t seen before.
There’s no doubt that Jesus had been missed during the week, with fans voraciously seeking news of his return. Arsenal’s travel to Lisbon for the Europa League last-16 tie on Wednesday sparked breathless rumours of his presence in the party, which neither the club nor Arteta disputed. After readying himself up at London Colney, he came out from the bus to an electric atmosphere. When Jesus replaced Leandro Trossard with 13 minutes left on the clock, Arsenal supporters kept up an uninterrupted roar before erupting into applause when he stepped foot onto the pitch.
Although Jesus has scored only four goals for Arsenal. He has drawn blanks in the past 11. But Arteta is right that his intangibles not lost on those who follow closely. While Jesus had one opportunity to return with a bang, Bernd Leno denied him at the end of a sweeping move he had initiated himself, he had spent most of the afternoon watching a team that now pulsates with the attributes he coaxed out.
Arsenal were aided fact Fulham seemed to resigned from beginning. Marco Silva’s comment that “at certain points” of the first half his squad appeared to be not around was kind. There was a moment in the 8th minute when Antonee Robinson, hitting Bukayo Saka, appeared to prove to Arsenal that their rivals were there. Saka, one of the top players this term in the Premier League and perhaps the toughest, simply stood back up before playing with elan, strength and control. Robinson experienced a half so daunting it would have graced nightmares.
It was Saka’s 36th start of the season in all competitions, including England’s World Cup campaign. Arteta has made a project of transforming him into a machine who can play, play, and play again: delivering every time, without going through the motions. Although Saka won’t reach his manager’s goal of 70 games a week, every three days, he epitomizes the robustness that sets Arsenal apart even at this young age.
Like almost everyone else in an all black away kit that made the occasion a singular spectacle by comparison to Fulham’s home getup. Centrally involved in the creation a stunning second goal. Something which truly encapsulated modern-day Arsenal. The move culminated with Leandro Trossard providing a perfect cross for Gabriel Martinelli. A player who has looked similarly impressive ever since Jesus’ arrival this season. Having seemingly a bond with Belgian international Trossard. The latter was excellent on this occasion; exhibiting ability and inventiveness beyond expectation. Though Mykhaylo Mudryk may have been the more recent acquisition. Arsenal’s purchase of Trossard from Brighton now looks to have been a real steal. His contribution here suggests he could prove to the key factor in helping them to find the experience. Strength they need to make it through tough times.
The belief that Arsenal will take the title is gaining strength. This first game of the challenging away run featuring Liverpoo. Newcastle and Manchester City tackled with ease. The Manfred Mann tributes joined predictions Arsenal would win league first time. The week before had been fraught but this time there were few doubts. Jesus’s performance gave a hint of additional resources in Arsenal’s arsenal.
Arteta commented on Jesus having to earn his place just like anyone else in the team. Noting that with the options Arsenal have now. In response to people criticising their celebrations of the victory over Bournemouth. The manager suggested they should be going to church instead.