Arsenal resume title tilt without Jesus, City deploy refreshed Haaland

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta with his players during a training session at London Colney on December 24, 2022 in St Albans, England.

Arsenal continue their push for a first title in 19 years when they host West Ham United in the late game on Monday as the Premier League season resumes after the pause for the World Cup, but they must do so without injured striker Gabriel Jesus.

Jesus scored five goals and provided six assists to help Arsenal move five points clear of his former club Manchester City at the top of the table but is not expected to play again until February after surgery to treat a knee injury sustained in Brazil’s 1-0 defeat by Cameroon on December 2 in Qatar.

The Brazilian started all 14 of Arsenal’s league matches but now they must turn to English forward Eddie Nketiah as they try to stave off the pursuit of champions City, who can count on a refreshed Erling Haaland at Leeds United on Wednesday.

“It’s a huge blow for us, obviously,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said of the injury to Jesus.

“He’s such an important player, he’s brought something very different to the team and it’s impossible to replace him.

“But we have other players, other alternatives, and we’ll try to get that sorted. The transfer window is another option.”

Arteta said his side were stepping into the unknown as leaders heading into the new year but was invigorated by the situation.

“What is coming in the second part of the season is something unprecedented, and we need to be ready for it. We should be excited, we should be embracing the opportunity that we have ahead of us,” he added.

City’s Haaland will be itching to add to his remarkable tally of 18 league goals from 12 appearances and Norway’s failure to qualify for the World Cup meant he was able to rest from a bruised ligament in his foot sustained in November.

Pep Guardiola’s side had 16 players, including newly-crowned world champion Julian Alvarez, at the finals though the manager said those involved in Qatar could have a competitive edge.

“I have the feeling those who were at the World Cup are in better condition than players who weren’t because the players who didn’t go lack the rhythm,” he said.

Third-placed Newcastle United are two points behind City after making a tremendous start to the season and boosting their chances of qualifying for the Champions League in their first full campaign since being taken over by a Saudi Arabia-backed consortium.

They visit a resurgent Leicester City, who have won four of their last five matches to ease the pressure on coach Brendan Rodgers.

Tottenham Hotspur, one point below Newcastle in fourth, visit Brentford in Harry Kane’s first match since missing a penalty in England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat by France.

Manchester United, who are fifth, host Nottingham Forest on Tuesday while Liverpool, in sixth, head to Aston Vila on Monday.

Post a Comment

What do you think?

Previous Post Next Post