Arsenal’s ace striker Gabriel Jesus has been ruled out of their all-important clash with Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium.
Gabriel Jesus, lauded by Arteta as a figure who “changed our world” in October, has faced challenges with fitness since joining Arsenal in the summer of 2022. Throughout his Arsenal career, Jesus has played in only 51% of the available minutes.
Following a knee injury that kept him out of the FA Cup third-round defeat to Liverpool last month, Jesus was once again unavailable when Arsenal faced Liverpool in a crucial Premier League match on Sunday afternoon.
Despite putting on a strong performance against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, scoring a goal to break the deadlock in a tight contest that Arsenal won 2-1, Gabriel Jesus did not feature in the match against Liverpool. He had traveled with the team for the league meeting with Liverpool and was seen walking around the stadium in club attire but was not included in the matchday squad.
Arteta reveals why Jesus is a no-show for the Liverpool game
“Unfortunately, he had a setback in training and wasn’t fit to play,” Arteta told Sky Sports ahead of kick-off. When pushed on whether the same problematic knee was bothering Jesus, the tight-lipped manager offered: “Yes, it’s something relating to that. Unfortunately, he’s not fit.”
The Arsenal boss was optimistic that Jesus hadn’t sustained any serious damage. “Hopefully not [long term]. I think it’s a short-term thing but the game was too fast [soon] for him.”
Interestingly, in the absence of Gabriel Jesus, Mikel Arteta did not opt for Eddie Nketiah, Arsenal’s only other natural center-forward, as a replacement. Instead, Arteta deployed Kai Havertz through the middle, similar to the lineup in Arsenal’s previous defeat to Liverpool in the FA Cup. Despite creating numerous chances in that game, Havertz failed to convert any of his six attempts.
While Jesus has acknowledged that scoring goals is not his strongest suit, Liverpool faced their own striker concerns with Darwin Nunez. Although Nunez left Anfield in a boot after Liverpool’s 4-1 win against Chelsea, he was fit enough to be on the bench against Arsenal, while Cody Gakpo took his place in the starting lineup. Additionally, rarely seen midfielder Thiago Alcantara was among the substitutes, marking his return to the Premier League squad for the first time since April.