Jamie Redknapp says the “magnificent” Gabriel Jesus has transformed Arsenal, with his standards setting an example for the rest of the squad.
The Gunners cruised to a 3-0 win against Bournemouth as their flawless start continued to propel them to the top of the Premier League.
Man-of-the-match Jesus had a goal disallowed for offside in the second half, but he played a key role in Martin Odegaard’s first-half opener before netting the Norwegian midfielder’s second to take his tally to five in three games.
“The improvement that Jesus gave them was beyond understanding because of what they had before,” said Sky Sports expert Jamie Redknapp.
“I was watching Arsenal strikers walking around, playing tipi-tapi football. Jesus is in and around him, he wants to be hurt, he makes challenges, he has been fantastic for this club. The standards he sets, not only in matches but in training, sets the right example for all to follow.
“He was always a good player, we admired him at Manchester City, but you never felt he was a No. 9. You always felt it was (Sergio) Aguero or whoever he was, he was a player to look up to they turned if they had injuries or played it on the left or the right. Here he is the focal point of the team and he does things that are just magnificent.”
Jesus, 25, has looked a steal since signing for Arsenal in a £45m move this summer. Mikel Arteta handed him the number nine shirt, backing him to lead the front line – and Jesus accepted the challenge.
“I think he is hungry enough to maintain that form and he has the players around him to do just that,” said the former Arsenal striker and Sky Sports expert Alan Smith.
“The coaches have said personally that he has transformed the team. He’s made such a difference with the options he gives his teammates, those smart players who can insert him.
“For some players the shirt will be heavy but for others, like Jesus, he has been given the number nine and with that comes expectations, but he relishes the responsibility. He knows he is the first choice and that gives you confidence. It’s such a different role to Manchester City and he’s been viewed in such a different way.”
This time last year, some Arsenal fans called for Arteta to be axed as their side sit bottom of the Premier League after losing their opening three games.
Now it’s the polar opposite and the question is how far can Arsenal go?
“They are full of confidence, there is great energy in the team. The new players have really added to what they are trying to achieve here,” Redknapp said.
“It’s very early in the season, but there are real reasons to be optimistic about this team. They are very, very impressive right now. They look like a great team, very, very strong.
“They’ve got stamina, real strength, they’ve got options – (Emile) Smith-Roe and (Kieran) Tierney come off the bench, you start looking at this Arsenal team and think, ‘Why can’t they go on and really achieve something?’
“It will be tough, there are some real challenges ahead, but they have some good games ahead of them. If you’re an Arsenal fan, you should be really proud of this team right now.”
What next for Arsenal?
Arsenal are back in action Saturday night football when they host Fulham in a 5.30pm kick-off live on Sky Sports on August 27.