The Arsenal manager has kept his cards close to his chest when it comes to the timeline for Gabriel Jesus’ return from the injury that has kept him out of action since the World Cup.
Mikel Arteta admits Gabriel Jesus is closing in on a return to Arsenal but this weekend’s clash with Bournemouth may be a test too soon.
Former Manchester City striker Jesus has been out of action since the World Cup after picking up an injury in Qatar that required knee surgery.
The Brazilian has returned to light training as the Gunners prepare for the visit of Gary O’Neil’s men. But Arteta suggested his £45 million summer acquisition, who has netted five times this season, would not be ready in time.
“He’s not far away now,” said Arteta. “I don’t want to give a timeline but he does certain things with the team and certain things outside the team.
“He’s not that close but he’s not that far away. He’s feeling better every day and the doctors are confident of the progress of his injury.
“We need to see when he comes back, what level he is, how we are going to adapt him and how we are going to fill him with minutes and in which games.
“Like everyone else, he has to earn his place but we know what Gaby can bring to the team. I think [his rehabilitation] is quite easy.
“In the beginning, we were really worried about the injury because we were talking about options there.
“Thankfully it wasn’t that bad, but it was a long term injury, required surgery and it wasn’t [fun], especially the first few weeks.
“But knowing Gaby, she’s been through that before. Her mentality is outstanding and the [physio] team have done a very good job with her to get her where she is today.”
Arsenal have relied on academy graduate Eddie Nketiah in Jesus’ absence, but the 23-year-old has seen his goals dry up in recent weeks.
Nketiah is also nursing an ankle injury and is fit for the game against the Cherries.
“We’re assessing [Eddie] and it’s a bit uncertain what will happen with him, to be honest,” Arteta added. “Let’s see and keep the options open. He’s been very positive about that so hopefully he’s all right.”
Arteta was forced to take off Joringho at half-time in Arsenal’s dominant 4-0 win over Everton last time out, with the former Chelsea midfielder feeling unwell at the break.
But the Gunners boss has since confirmed the midfielder is back fit and could feature against Bournemouth.
“Jorgi is fine,” said Arteta. “He was sick and he suffered but to be fair he pushed hard and made a change in the first half. We decided to take him off but he is fit now.”
Predicted Arsenal XI vs Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Trossard