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Arsenal FC: How Trossard, Havertz and Nketiah compare as alternatives to Jesus

With pre-season well underway for Arsenal and Gabriel Jesus looking close to his tenacious self, his progress was abruptly stopped with a recurrence of issues concerning the knee injury he sustained for Brazil at the World Cup last year.

Arteta has said Jesus will be out for “a few weeks”, meaning Arsenal will be looking to one of their alternative options to carry them through the first couple of games of the season.

With Jesus out and new signing Kai Havertz starting the Community Shield victory over Manchester City on Sunday, Arteta now has a variety of options to choose from.

Academy boy Eddie Nketiah proved his worth while Jesus was out early in 2023, and January signing Leandro Trossard gave his best Jesus impressions as a false-nine in the spring months.

Arteta has described how one of his aims for this year “is to be more unpredictable”, and the differing styles of these three attackers allow for greater depth in his team selections.

How Trossard, Nketiah and Havertz Compare Statistically

Stats taken from Squawka’s comparison matrix – comparison of Trossard, Havertz and Nketiah’s per 90 stats from 22/23 Premier League season

When comparing the trio’s stats from last season’s Premier League, on a per 90 basis, Trossard was the most active of the three with 54.6 touches per game, in comparison to Havertz’s 47.1 and Nketiah’s 38.7. This could also be down to the fact that Trossard played a lot of his minutes for Arsenal as a left-sided attacker, as well as false-nine. Whereas Havertz and Nketiah were both predominantly number nine.

Ball recovering is also an area that Trossard excels in, with 4.5 recoveries per 90, over Havertz’s 2.9 and Nketiah’s 2.6. This proves that if Arteta is looking for the best option for defending from the front and pressing, then Trossard may well be the best option at his disposal.

Aerial play is where Havertz excels, in contrast to his fellow forwards. He wins 2.8 aerial duels per 90, on average, and Trossard and Nketiah don’t come close with 0.3 and 0.9, respectively.

Standing at 6ft. 4in, Havertz’s lofty height is a quality Arteta has reinforced when speaking about the player. He describes how his “size” and the option to “use him as a target man”, and this is something very different for an Arsenal side who have Jesus, Trossard and Nketiah all standing at below 6ft.

By utilising Havertz as an old fashioned number 9, as opposed to a false 9, Havertz’s height and ability to win aerial duels will give Arsenal another option in the box for high swinging crosses against big centre halves.

This may also be an option Arteta chooses to take against the sides in the league that press high up the pitch, such as Brighton and Manchester City. This allows Arsenal to vary their play between playing out from the back, to longer passes up the pitch to Havertz, so their outlets in Saka and Martinelli can spring them into life much quicker.

Stylistically speaking, Trossard would be seen as the most natural option to replace Jesus with his all-round ability and quality in pressing. Many were surprised when Havertz was given the nod up front in the Community Shield, with many people’s first choice being Trossard as he has been in superb form in pre-season – further adding to this form with a goal in the 101st minute of Sunday’s match.

However, witnessing Havertz’s ability to lead the line and relieve pressure shows that Arteta now has a vast wealth of options to select from, even when Jesus is out. This further reinforces the desire for “unpredictability” from his Arsenal side.

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