Gabriel Jesus pinpoints moment when Arsenal lost the league during podcast appearance

Arsenal forward Gabriel Jesus says the absence of William Saliba during the second half of last season played a crucial part in them missing out on the title.

For much of the 2022/23 campaign, Mikel Arteta’s side were flying high at the Premier League summit. In fact, on January 18, Arsenal had an eight point lead over rivals Manchester City.

The Gunners also recorded seven consecutive league wins between February 18 and April 1 but during that run, a serious injury to one of the club’s best performers put a dent in their title charge.

William Saliba would miss two months of the season after picking up a muscle injury in his lower back during the first-half of their Europa League defeat to Sporting CP in March.

His absence was noticeable, to say the least. Having started every Premier League game for Arsenal before injuring his back, the pacey Saliba was arguably Arsenal’s most important player.

Somebody who understands the impact of Saliba’s absence during those crucial stages of the season is teammate Gabriel Jesus, who has given an honest assessment of the situation this week.

Speaking to YouTube channel Denílson Show – a podcast hosted by former Brazil international Denilson – the 26-year-old forward pinpointed the moment when Arsenal lost their grip in the Premier League title race.

As translated by Twitter user Renato, Jesus said: “When he [Saliba] plays, we concede few goals, when he doesn’t play, the number (goals conceded) increases.

“When I got injured, Eddie replaced me very well. Then we signed Leo (Trossard). We kept the pace. But when Saliba got injured, it was complicated.

“The other defenders are good, but we were playing in a certain way. Look at the stats we concede a lot less with him.”

Rob Holding performed admirably in Saliba’s place but some were far from convinced by his overall presence at the back.

Back in April, when Arsenal were eight points clear of soon-to-be-champions Manchester City, Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane labelled Holding as the weak link ahead of a game against Liverpool.

“Rob Holding doesn’t play regularly and there’s a reason for that,” Keane said. “There are better players in his position at the club.

“I’m not his biggest fan, there’s no doubt he’s an honest pro but I worry at this level about his real lack of pace.

“Sometimes he gets too tight to people so if you’re Liverpool, you’ll be looking at that area thinking they’re vulnerable. On the turn, he’s very slow.

“In terms of quick play around his feet, he is short at this level.”


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