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Granit Xhaka calls on Arsenal to get behind Jesus replacement

Granit Xhaka calls on Arsenal to get behind Jesus replacement


Eddie Nketiah and Martin Odegaard celebrate a goal in an Arsenal friendly vs Watford (Photo via Arsenal.com)
Eddie Nketiah and Martin Odegaard celebrate a goal in an Arsenal friendly vs Watford (Photo via Arsenal.com)

Granit Xhaka faced a tough night on Tuesday, as Switzerland exited the World Cup with a heavy defeat to Portugal. But that wasn’t the only blow Xhaka faced this week, as he and the rest of the Arsenal squad learned of an injury and subsequent surgery for Gabriel Jesus.

Discussing the situation after the Switzerland game, Xhaka answered a question about whether Arsenal could cope without Jesus.

“We have to. We have no different option,” Xhaka said. “We have the option with Eddie [Nketiah], of course. He showed great games as well in the past and we need to support Gabi first.

“We need to support Eddie as well, because he will be a big, big part of the next two or three months. But I am looking forward because we have the quality to bring Eddie there and to help him.”

For the time being, Nketiah is Arsenal’s only recognised senior striker. The likes of Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe have played centrally in the past, but both play different roles in Mikel Arteta’s current side.

Martinelli is a starter on the left-hand side, so he can’t play there and also play at centre-forward.

When Smith Rowe is fully fit, he could come into the team on the left, but that would mean making two changes to the team, rather than just making one by bringing in Nketiah.

Eddie Nketiah and Albert Sambi Lokonga in training with Arsenal (Photo via Arsenal.com)
Eddie Nketiah and Albert Sambi Lokonga in training with Arsenal (Photo via Arsenal.com)

Nketiah has always been a goal threat for Arsenal, scoring around once every two 90s across his career so far after breaking through at the age of 18.

But his Premier League minutes have always been very limited, only just totalling over 2,000 in six seasons. Gabriel Jesus is at 1,226 minutes this season alone.

This is the 23-year-old’s chance to show what he can do when given the opportunity to feature more regularly, and it’s undeniable that his all-around game has improved significantly on top of his goal threat.

Replacing Jesus is a very tall order, and it’s almost inevitable there will be some drop-off for Arteta’s side as a result of the Brazilian’s absence.

It’s up to Nketiah to limit that as much as possible, and for the Arsenal supporters and his teammates to get behind him.



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