Premier League • England

Mikel Arteta delighted for Gabriel Jesus as Arsenal star is ‘rewarded’ after injury recovery; admits Leeds made win ‘tricky’

Mikel Arteta of Arsenal

Mikel Arteta has expressed his delight for Gabriel Jesus as the Arsenal forward returned to the starting eleven and bagged two goals, while also revealing that Leeds made it ‘tricky’ for his team.

Jesus, who was in the starting lineup for the first time since recovering from knee surgery, had a chance just 11 minutes into the game. Granit Xhaka picked him out with a great cross but Jesus could not quite send it on target.

Crysencio Summerville had a shot saved for Leeds before Jesus won Arsenal a penalty. The Brazilian got past Rasmus Kristensen and then bamboozled Luke Ayling, who went to ground and stuck out a leg to bring Jesus down. It was only a slight touch but enough for Jesus to hit the deck and force the referee to point to the spot.

Jesus stepped up and beat Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier to mark his full return for Arsenal with a goal.

Arsenal headed into the break 1-0 up. And they doubled their lead two minutes after the restart.

Oleksandr Zinchenko played Gabriel Martinelli in down the left flank and the winger did brilliantly to pick out Ben White with a cross to the back post. White scored against his former club by finishing with the help of the crossbar.

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Jesus secured his brace in the 55th minute. The striker played in Leandro Trossard and he did well to get past Robin Koch before pulling the ball back to Jesus, who finished first time.

Kristensen netted for Leeds when his shot deflected off Zinchenko and beat Aaron Ramsdale. But Arsenal had the last laugh as Xhaka headed home in the 84th minute after a great cross from skipper Martin Odegaard. The game ended 4-1, with Arsenal extending their lead on second-placed Manchester City back to eight points.

Mikel Arteta reacts to latest Arsenal triumph

In a post-match interview with BBC Match of the Day, Arteta was asked about the victory, which was his 100th as Arsenal boss. The Spaniard responded: “I didn’t know. It is a beautiful number and we go for the next one.

“We had a few things going on with some individuals. It has been a concerning few days because we could not decide until this morning if some players would be available and the line-up.

“After an international break you do not know if they are in the frame of mind to come back and do the things necessary to win this league. I am really happy with the performance.

“They [Leeds] made it tricky for us. We lost the ball in bad areas to a team that put four really fast players that run in transitions. After, we took control of the game and we’re really good in the boxes today.”

When asked about Jesus, Arteta continued: “I am so happy for him after all the work from him and the staff throughout the last five months. Today, he got rewarded for that.”

Attention then turned to midfielder Xhaka, who is in brilliant form at the moment. “A lovely header,” the coach said. “The timing and the ball in. He has the capacity to do that. Now he has scored three I think in the last four games. Really good.

“We were aware [of Man City’s result] as it is a huge game and we wanted to watch parts of it. But when we got here it was just to focus on us and what we can do as a team. They are used to it. We can only control what we can do.”

‘Everyone is playing so well’, says Jesus

During a post-match interview with Sky Sports, goalscorer Jesus said: “Everyone is playing so well. It is easy to come back. The most important thing is that everyone that has come in has played good.

“I want to score every game. But sometimes it can’t happen. I am more happy with the three points than the goals. Congrats for the team. Zini [Oleksandr Zinchenko] joked with me yesterday, because we were practicing penalties and I just took that one like I always do, stopping. He said ‘in the game, you never do it like this’, so I showed him clips. I was calm and I remember him as well.

“To compete against a strong opponent and a team that scores a lot of goals, we look at this. We said before the game not to look at goal difference and focus on the points. But sometimes you have to try and score more and more as it might matter at the end of the season.”

Meanwhile, Ian Wright has named the Arsenal player he is expecting to explode under Arteta next season.