Irish Daily Mail

Arteta hails return of Jesus but tells striker he must earn his place

- SAMI MOKBEL at Craven Cottage

MIKEL ARTETA has heralded Gabriel Jesus’s return from injury — but warned the Arsenal striker he is not guaranteed a place in his starting XI. Jesus made his first appearance since undergoing knee surgery in December, when he came on as a second-half substitute against Fulham. Jesus’ return comes as a huge fillip to Arteta as his team prime themselves for the title run-in. Arteta said: ‘A big boost. It was the first step today. We didn’t know whether it was the right game but yesterday I looked him in his eyes and he said, “I am ready”. Now he needs to earn his place, like any other player.’ January signing Leandro Trossard assisted all three goals for the Gunners. On the Belgian’s performanc­e, Arteta said: ‘He was really impressive. He was willing to come back early after picking up an injury last week. ‘He could have been unavailabl­e for a week to 10 days extra. His football intelligen­ce is great, he knows what is required straight away. After this routine win, Arteta added: ‘I’m really happy to win and get three points away from home, especially with a clean sheet. We had a goal disallowed and psychologi­cally we overcame that. ‘It’s great to see the goals distribute­d through the team. Every time we put the ball in the net it is great. We practise lots of things and today scored beautiful goals.’ Fulham boss Marco Silva was not happy with his team’s first-half performanc­e after goals from Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard condemned his team to defeat before the break. ‘Clearly they deserved the three points. We were on the pitch for the first half but some moments we weren’t. ‘We were too soft. Not brave enough. We were 50 per cent of what we should have done. The second half was slightly different. ‘We created more chances, we showed more drive and were more aggressive. At last we expressed ourselves more on the pitch.’ Willian missed yesterday’s defeat with a slight back injury but his absence is unlikely to be long term.

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