Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta described Gabriel Jesus‘s return from injury as a “big boost” but warned the Brazil international has to win his place back in the team as they challenge for the Premier League title.
The Gunners restored their five-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table with a comfortable 3-0 win at Fulham on Sunday as first-half goals from Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard secured the points.
Leandro Trossard registered three assists in an impressive display as Arsenal’s central striker before being replaced for the final 13 minutes by Jesus, who was making his first appearance for the club since Nov. 5 following knee surgery.
“[It is a] big boost [to have him back],” said Arteta. “The first step today. We didn’t know if it was the right game today. He said to me a few days ago ‘I’m still missing something.’ Yesterday I looked in his eyes and he said ‘I’m ready.’ I said ‘OK.’
“So then we had the opportunity to throw him in. It’s that first step to give him the big boost. He looks free, he looks ready and straight away he generated those two big chances. It’s great to have him back.
“[But] he has to earn his place like in any other team. We have alternatives who can play in different positions and we have different goals as well to fill in relation to the chemistry of the players and what we ask them to do. It’s a great problem to have, believe me.
“We try to adapt to the quality of players that we have, to put them in their strengths and position where we want as much as possible. Leo [Leandro Trossard] has very different qualities to Gabi, Martin [Odegaard] complements him really well in terms of the space and understanding with him. It’s great to have that versatility.”