Arteta ‘needs’ to replace 26yo who ‘disappeared’ vs Villa and made Arsenal look ‘a man down’ – Nicol

Jason Soutar
Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus dribbles with the ball.
Gabriel Jesus dribbles with the ball.

Steve Nicol has slammed Gabriel Jesus after the Arsenal striker “disappeared” in his side’s 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Brazilian striker had a WhoScored match rating of 6.65, higher than five of his fellow starters on the night.

He could only muster up one shot on target, however, in what was a frustrating 90 minutes for the Gunners.

Aston Villa took the lead courtesy of a tidy John McGinn finish and defended well afterward, though Mikel Arteta’s side were wasteful in front of goal, with Martin Odegaard missing a couple of big chances.

Eddie Nketiah also had a late equaliser ruled out for handball on Kai Havertz as Unai Emery’s men beat their Premier League title rivals (yes, I did just say that) at Villa Park.

Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal: 16 Conclusions on the Prem title favourites and the team they beat

One player to come in for criticism for their performance is former Manchester City striker Jesus.

Former Liverpool right-back Nicol believes that Jesus’ showing against Villa proves that Arteta needs to sign a No. 9 to fire Arsenal to Premier League glory.

Nicol has claimed that the 26-year-old’s performance made it look like Arsenal were playing with ten men. Ouch.

He told ESPN: “I’ll tell you what, they need a centre forward. I remembered sitting thinking where’s Jesus?

“And I’m talking about an Arsenal side who I thought were dominating, particularly in the second-half.

“It was all about defence for Villa. But we never saw Jesus.

“You can’t win the Premier League title with a man down, let’s put it that way. Because Jesus did absolutely nothing to help his team.

“And when you’ve got to break down a tight defence that’s on top of their game, you’ve got to produce. And he, never mind he didn’t produce, he just disappeared.”

Arteta is reportedly interested in signing a new striker with Brentford’s Ivan Toney and Napoli’s Victor Osimhen top of his wishlist.

Toney reportedly wants to leave Brentford in January, when his ban for breaking the FA’s gambling rules comes to an end.

Osimhen, meanwhile, is also being tracked by Chelsea and there is a decent chance he leaves Napoli at the end of the season having turned down the opportunity to extend his contract.

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