ALAN SMITH: JESUS IS ARSENAL’S “MISSING LINK”
“I think he will transform them. He’s a player with something to prove and somebody who can get goals."
FORMER Gunner striker Alan Smith believes that Gabriel Jesus will provide the final piece of the Arsenal attacking puzzle following the Brazilian’s £45m summer transfer from Manchester City.
Smith said: “I think Jesus is the missing link in terms of how Arsenal construct their attacks. People at the club have spoken about his movement and what he gives the team and how he can link up with those boys just behind, the likes of Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli and Smith-Rowe.
“I think he will transform them. Alexandre Lacazette didn’t have that pace, so Arsenal’s attacks sometimes foundered on that.
“He’s not a youngster, but he’s a player with something to prove that he can play through the middle week in, week out and somebody who can get goals.
“He’s been knocking in goals in pre-season and that matters. I remember in my pre-seasons, if I hadn’t scored, I’d be going into the new campaign with a little bit of doubt in my mind.
“But Arsenal are looking sharp so they should go to Crystal Palace on the opening night with a lot of confidence.”
Gunners fans share Smith’s optimism, with 59% believing that Arsenal’s squad is in a better place than 12 months ago. Jesus was also voted the third best signing of the summer in the poll of all Premier League fans.
Smith famously scored in Arsenal’s title-winning decider against Liverpool at Anfield in 1989. While he isn’t predicting a title challenge this season, he does see more stability at the Emirates under 23-year-old new captain Martin Odegaard.
Smith added: “Odegaard’s only just got to the club and he’s still a young lad, but he’s captain of Norway and he takes responsibility on the pitch. The fact that Mikel Arteta has given him the armband speaks volumes about what he thinks of him as a leader.”
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