Jamie Redknapp says “magnificent” Gabriel Jesus has transformed Arsenal, with his standards setting an example for the rest of the squad.
The Gunners cruised to a 3-0 victory at Bournemouth as their flawless start continued to lift them to the top of the Premier League.
Player of the match Jesus had a goal ruled out for offside in the second half, but he played a key part in Martin Odegaard’s first-half opener before setting up the Norway midfielder’s second, taking his total goal involvements to five in three matches.
“The upgrade Jesus has given them is beyond comprehension because of what they’ve had before,” he said Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp.
“I used to watch Arsenal strikers strolling around, playing tippy-tappy football. Jesus is in and around it, he wants to get hurt, he makes challenges, he’s been fantastic for this club. The standards he sets, not just in matches but in training, gives the right example for everyone to follow.
“He’s always been a good player. We admired him at Manchester City, but you never felt he was the No 9. You always felt it was [Sergio] Aguero or whoever it may be, he was a player they turned to if they had injuries or played him off the left or right. Here, he is the focal point of the team and he is doing things that are just magnificent.”
Jesus, 25, has looked a steal ever since sealing a £45m move to Arsenal this summer. Mikel Arteta handed him the No 9 shirt, backing him to lead the frontline – and Jesus has embraced the challenge.
“I think he’s hungry enough to carry this form on and he’s got the players around him to do exactly that,” said former Arsenal striker and Sky Sports expert Alan Smith.
“The coaches have said privately that he has transformed the side. He’s made such a difference with the options that he gives his team-mates, those clever players who can slip him in.
“With some players the shirt will wear heavy but with others, like Jesus, he’s been given the No 9 and with that comes expectations, but he’s relishing the responsibility. He knows he’s first choice and that gives you confidence. It’s such a different role from Manchester City and he’s been regarded in such a different way.”
This time last year, some Arsenal fans were calling for Arteta to be axed with their team sitting at the bottom of the Premier League having lost their first three matches.
Now, it’s the polar opposite and a question of how far can Arsenal go?
“They are full of confidence, there’s a great energy about the team. The new players have really added to what they’re trying to achieve here,” said Redknapp.
“It’s very early in the season but there are real reasons to be optimistic about this squad. They’re very impressive right now. They look a formidable team, very strong.
“They have a resilience about them, real strength, they have options – [Emile] Smith Rowe and [Kieran] Tierney coming off the bench, you start to look at this Arsenal team and think, ‘Why can’t they go on and really achieve something?’
“It’s going to be tough, there’s some real challenges to come but they’ve got some nice fixtures ahead of them. If you’re an Arsenal fan you should be really proud of this side right now.”
What’s next for Arsenal?
Arsenal are back in action Saturday Night Football when they host Fulham in a 5.30pm kick-off live on Sky Sports on August 27.