Mikel Arteta issues stunning update on Gabriel Jesus as he misses Europa League clash against Sporting Lisbon
The Brazilian was expected to travel to Portugal with Arsenal ahead of Europa league clash
Mikel Arteta claims Gabriel Jesus’ recovery is progressing after he was left out of Arsenal’s squad for Thursday’s Europa League match against Sporting Lisbon.
The forward has not played since suffering a knee injury during the World Cup, but it was reported earlier this week that Arteta was considering sending the Brazilian international to Portugal for the first leg of the round of 16 tie.
Many Gunners were hopeful that the 25-year-old would be available to play some role at the Estádio José Alvalade after he was spotted back in training on Wednesday.
However, this did not occur, and the manager was still able to name a fairly strong starting XI for the match, which included debutant Jakub Kiwior in defence.
Arteta explained ahead of the match that Jesus’ recovery had not been hampered, but that he simply wasn’t in good enough shape to compete.
‘We will try not to rush him back, and we will try to make a fair assessment between what he needs and when he is comfortable,’ he said.
‘Everything is going well; he just needs time to build up the confidence and physical strength to compete with a clear mind.’
Prior to his injury, Jesus was an integral part of Arsenal’s title defence, scoring five goals and assisting on six others in 14 games.
If he does return soon, it couldn’t come at a better time for Arsenal, who have recently lost Eddie Nketiah and Leandro Trossard to ankle and groyne injuries, respectively.
As a result, Gabriel Martinelli starts up front against Sporting, with Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson flanking him, but there is no senior striker on their bench.
Meanwhile, club captain Martin Odegaard has been ruled out due to illness.