James OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FCReading in 5 Minutes
Tuesday night was a night that featured Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka in the starting 11 for only the second time this season, and their combination proved too much for Sevilla with a hard-fought 2-1 win at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan . .
They bagged 40 goals and 23 assists in the Premier League last season and Arsenal’s success this season will depend heavily on their continued effectiveness.
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Saka is often the star in this trio, but that honor certainly goes to Jesus of Andalusia; He made one for Martinelli and scored the other with two minutes of quality that were rivaled by no one else on the pitch all evening.
There are periods when the 26-year-old’s profligacy is utterly frustrating, but equally there are evenings when he is virtually unstoppable, and this was one of the latter. He currently has 18 goals in 26 matches in the Champions League and 23 goals in 41 matches for Arsenal and Manchester City.
“Big games are for big players,” Arteta said. “To win in a stadium like this, he had to produce those moments. He did that for us in a really big way.
“I think he changed our world. He brought a lot of belief and energy to that team. In those moments he has to step in. He did that. That’s when a player becomes responsible to the team. We need these players to win games.” “
So, the sight of Jesus limping nine minutes later with a suspected hamstring injury was a clear and significant cause for concern.
“He felt something in his hamstring, let’s see,” Arteta said. “He immediately wanted to transfer to another player, which is not good news because he is not a player who does that so we will have to wait and see over the next few days.
“[I’m] “I’m really sorry because he felt something and I’m worried about it.”
The trio had to battle numerous fitness problems. Jesus missed the start of the season following minor knee surgery. Martinelli has missed five recent games due to a hamstring injury; This was the same problem that had previously caused Saka to make 87 consecutive Premier League appearances. Even before this, Saka had been substituted in successive matches after heavy difficulties.
This may be a result of their explosive power. In a city famous for its history and culture, Sevilla have, perhaps fittingly, named four former great relics, none more distinguished than legendary 37-year-old centre-back Sergio Ramos. Sevilla’s defense had a combined age of 136 and they regularly looked vulnerable to the energy and pace of Arsenal’s front three; It wasn’t until just before half-time that the visitors took the lead with a devastating counter-attack.
After Dodi Lukébakio’s cross was cleared and in an instant Isa turned defense into attack, controlling the ball high, then executing a Cruyff turn and forcing Martinelli to run into Sevilla’s half, round goalkeeper Orjan Nyland and finish with a simple side-footed finish. let them free.
Martinelli scored in his first matches for Arsenal in the Champions League, Europa League, Premier League and League Cup.
Eight minutes after the restart Jesus created a chance for himself, working the ball with his right foot inside the penalty area before firing a stunning shot past Nyland and into the far corner.
A tense finale followed, with Nemanja Gudelj scoring a header in the 58th minute (Sevilla’s first shot on target); This halved the lead and triggered a spell in which Declan Rice’s intelligence and combativeness came to the fore, along with William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu. They distinguished themselves in a rearguard action that required them to repel the aerial threat from largely stationary pieces.
In fact, the most worrying moment came when Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya somehow pushed Juanlu’s stoppage-time cross towards his own goal, which thankfully landed in his own goal, setting up another tense night. Raya’s continued selection ahead of Aaron Ramsdale continues to be a talking point, especially after the first half where his distribution was once again questioned: the Spain international completed 10 of 16 passes in the first half, equating to 62.5% . This was the worst completion rate of any player on the field.
But positive outcomes like these buy Raya more time; this is masked by Arsenal’s first Champions League away win since defeating Basel 4-1 in December 2016.
After losing at Lens, the Gunners would fall behind in Group B with another defeat there, but they now sit in first place with two home games ahead of Sevilla and Lens.
“The result against Lens left us in a difficult situation and the team had to react,” Arteta said. “We are coming off the back of some very difficult games where the team has had to step in and deal with the challenges due to some injuries to the big players we have picked.”
While Jesus is expected to be assessed in the coming days, Arteta must hope that the injury list does not disrupt the front three’s progress.