Gabriel Jesus is out for a while, and the fact that the club has not given an indication of how long it is likely to take for him to return to the team does not bode well. With the January TW only a few weeks away, I can fully understand why the club have not made public how long it is going to take; it would undermine their negotiation position quite a bit. I always felt we would get an additional attacker in the coming TW anyway, but now there is even more need for it. We need more strength in depth and an experienced winger/CF is required imho.
But it all remains to be seen whether the excellent Edu and Arteta will be able to get what they want mid-term. So this post is about how the club can fill the huge gap GJ9 will leave behind during his absence (however long that will turn out to be).
Key is to find a replacement internally that will allow Arteta to keep playing the same sort of football and tactics. PB’s excellent previous post describes in detail what the man with the best-ever emoji-face has to offer. In my own words: Gabriel Jesus is a whirlwind of an attacker who creates chaos and restlessness in defences; he has that rare ability to dribble in very tight spaces and penetrate the box on a regular basis; he is very fit and mobile and just never stops; he sets the tempo in attack and is an example for the other attackers, and; he is a winner.
The real question is, do we have a player with the same qualities and characteristics?
Eddie: will do his best to fit the shoe but is a different type of CF with different qualities. I don’t think he will be the like for like replacement.
Balogun: I would leave him in beautiful Reims till the end of the season. I have not seen enough in action of him but I don’t think we should ask him to fill the speedy Brazilian’s shoes yet.
ESR: as a false-9 there is potential to do the job but the required dynamism and fitness would be a concern. A good dribbler and taker of chances he is for sure, but we are looking at another whirlwind of a CF and I don’t think that’s Emile’s strength.
Martinelli: well, I think GJ9 adopted younger brother could be the almost perfect match. He, just like Jesus, just never stops and is a total pain to any defence. He has that all important dribbling into the box ability and would relish to play more centrally. The gap he would leave behind on our attacking left could be filled by a fit ESR or Nelson, or even Vieira.
Saka: another strong option imo. Bukayo is ahead of Martinelli in his development and I think he could play the GJ9 role as well as anybody in the team. The problem is that Bukayo would leave an even bigger gap on our right than Martinelli would leave on our left in attack. Nelson or Marquinos are options, and so is the new Vieira, but they all would struggle to offer what Saka does on the right on a constant basis. Yet I believe that Saka would relish the opportunity and would be a fearsome CF in Arteta’s system.
All in all, I reckon we will buy a new attacker anyway to improve our strength in depth. But if Arsenal fail to do so – and there is absolutely no point in just buying somebody who Edu/Arteta are not totally sure about – Martinelli seems to me the best option all together, both for the CF position as well as the wider balance of the team.