Mikel Arteta calls for Arsenal fans to be patient with Gabriel Jesus when he returns from injury


Mikel Arteta has warned Arsenal supporters that Gabriel Jesus will need time to rediscover his best once the striker makes his much-anticipated return from injury.

The Brazilian, who has been out since suffering a knee injury at last year’s World Cup, trained with his team-mates on Wednesday before the team flew to Portugal for Thursday’s Europa League last-16 first leg with Sporting.

Arteta would not confirm whether Jesus is part of the touring party but the manager said: ‘He needs time as well to get himself that confidence and that physical state that is necessary to compete with a free mind and once he’s free to do that, we will throw him in.’

The manager added: ‘We will try not to rush him back, we will try to make a fair assessment between what he needs and when is comfortable and as well giving the team a boost that it’s going to need in the next few weeks for sure.’

Gabriel Martinelli could lead the line in Lisbon on Thursday night, with both Eddie Nketiah and Leandro Trossard out injured.

‘I don’t mind. If I am on the team, I can play as a goalkeeper,’ Martinelli joked.

But the Brazilian is nevertheless relishing the return of Jesus.

‘For sure, it will be a big (boost). He is a great guy and a great player,’ Martinelli added. ‘For me he is one of the best in the world. For sure, he is going to help us a lot in the next few months.’

Sporting dropped into the Europa League despite beating Tottenham here earlier this season. It means a reunion for Hector Bellerin with the club where he spent a decade.

‘He was a really important player for our club, he left something beyond just his career but as a person,’ Arteta added. ‘It will be great to see him.’

Kieran Tierney will not feature on Thursday after falling ill. It’s another setback for the left back, who has struggled for minutes this season and has been linked with a move this summer.

‘We discussed the situation and we had a very similar opinion about that,’ Arteta said. ‘He understands the situation and he needs to challenge the situation.’


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