Graham Cummins: How genuine is the Arsenal title challenge and can they rely on Jesus?

Gabriel Jesus will have to keep up his early-season form if the Gunners are to take on the might of Man City
Graham Cummins: How genuine is the Arsenal title challenge and can they rely on Jesus?

Gabriel Jesus of Arsenal celebrates with his team mates after scoring against Aston Villa. Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

THESE next few weeks are telling times to help us discover if Arsenal are genuine title contenders or if the early pace setters will flatter to deceive.

The Gunners beat a Brentford side last weekend who had only suffered one defeat up to then, before a London derby against Tottenham, followed by a fixture against Liverpool after the international break.

Fortunately for Mikel Arteta, those encounters against Spurs and Jurgen Klopp’s men are at the Emirates Stadium because Arsenal’s away record against both teams is not something for the Gunners to brag about.

Arsenal are currently on a four-game run of defeats away to their London rivals and their record against the Pool is even more hurtful for Gunners supporters with their side on a six-game losing streak at Anfield.

The Arsenal players will be aware of the daunting fixtures that lie ahead of them on their return from the international break, but of course, they will be quick to point out they are taking it one game at a time.

BULLIED

It’s over a year since the Gunners were humiliated by the Bees on the opening day of last season. That night, Arteta’s side were bullied and Brentford exposed a soft Arsenal team. Over the years the perception of the Gunners is that they are a team that can easily go hiding in difficult circumstances and mentally aren’t strong enough.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta applauds the fans, Picture: John Walton/PA Wire.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta applauds the fans, Picture: John Walton/PA Wire.

It seems that the view of Arsenal has changed this season, and they do deserve credit because they have had a good start, but I still have question marks about whether they are mentally strong enough to be an elite team.

Gabriel Jesus has been a good signing for Arsenal. He has adapted to his new club very well.

However, I do feel that he is receiving far more praise than he deserves. Yes, he has excelled in some games but I question how many goals he'll manage over a full campaign.

Like his new club, I question the mentality of the player. He hasn’t shown me enough in his career to make me think that when the chips are down, he is someone the team can rely on. In fact he often goes hiding.

That's why Manchester City were happy to let him go. 

Pep Guardiola is no fool. He wouldn’t have allowed Jesus to leave the club without a serious fight if he believed that the Brazilian could be someone he could call on if City needed a saviour.

Scoring against teams like Leicester isn’t going to be what propels Arsenal to the next level. It’s games against Manchester United when the team needed him and failed to deliver. I understand that there are a lot of attributes to his game.

He does work hard for the team and his link-up play has been good, but call me old-fashioned; I want my centre-forward to score goals. Jesus’s current record at Arsenal is a goal every other game, which is an acceptable return for a striker, but I have my doubts whether he will keep that up.

At the moment, he is still the new kid on the block and adored by Arsenal fans.

However, as time goes by, and Arsenal results inevitably begin to deteriorate, and the novelty of Jesus being a new signing wears off, will he be able to withstand the backlash that comes his way?

At City, Jesus was never considered the ‘main man’. He was never there to go-to guy when the team was in trouble. He never really had severe pressure on him. At Arsenal, it is the opposite.

How Jesus performs going through those difficult moments will indicate whether he is going to be a long-term success at Arsenal.

We know what Brentford are going to do against Arsenal. They are going to be physical. They will press high against the Gunners and will be direct. It will be a test for Arsenal.

Another defeat for Arteta’s side could provide the ammunition critics have been waiting for a lead to the downfall of Arsenal again this season.

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