Mikel Arteta has praised Gabriel Jesus for bringing “belief” and “energy” to Arsenal as the forward shone in victory at Sevilla.
Jesus continued his love affair with the Champions League with a fine goal and assist double as the Gunners won 2-1 at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.
A piece of magic set up compatriot Gabriel Martinelli to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time before Jesus doubled the lead with a fine, curling finish of his own – although he later limped off having moments earlier held his hamstring.
The Brazil forward may not boast the most prolific strike record but he has now scored an impressive 23 goals in 41 appearances in Europe’s elite club competition.
Asked if Jesus had been signed from Manchester City because of his prowess in the competition, Arteta replied: “For sure. He has been through a lot in the last few years and he’s still really young.
“He has enormous experiences – some of them not the nicest but very necessary to be the player that he is today. I’m really happy to have him in the team.
“He came here for a reason. I think he changed our world. He brought so much belief and energy to that team, he needs to step in in those moments. He’s done that. That’s when a player becomes accountable for the team.
“Big games are for big players. He needed to produce those moments to win in a stadium like this. He’s done it for us in a really big way. Then, really sad because he felt something in his hamstring and I’m worried about that.
“We need those players to win games. If you want to play Manchester City, then go to Stamford Bridge, then come here – that’s the level we’re at right now. To come here and win, big credit to the boys.”
Jesus’ night ended as he hobbled off to be replaced by Eddie Nketiah in the latter stages – with Arteta admitting he is concerned for the striker.
“(I am) really sad because he felt something in his hamstring and I’m worried about that,” he added.
“He straight away asked to be subbed which is not good news because Gabriel is not a player who does that at all. We will have to wait and see in the next few days.”
The victory saw Arsenal recover from defeat in Lens last time out and was enough to take them to the top of Group B at the halfway stage.
Arteta’s side will be in a good position to reach the knockout stages if they beat Sevilla in the return game at the Emirates Stadium in a fortnight and the Spaniard was pleased with the reaction to defeat in France.
“That result against Lens put us in a difficult position and the team had to react,” he said.
“We are coming from the back of very difficult games where the team has to step in and go against adversity as well with some of the injuries that we picked up to big players.
“The team is so willing to at least try their best even if we don’t manage to be our best all the time.”