Leeds fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worst after watching Gabriel Jesus open the scoring for Arsenal on Saturday.
Having been sent tumbling to the floor by Luke Ayling shortly after the half-hour mark, Jesus calmly stroked home the resulting penalty to break the deadlock and ease the growing tension at Emirates Stadium.
Until that point, it had been a frustrating afternoon for the Premier League leaders, who were aiming to restore their eight-point advantage at the top of the table after Manchester City’s victory over Liverpool earlier in the day.
But when Gabriel Jesus scores, Gabriel Jesus usually wins.
The Brazil international has found the net in 52 Premier League games for both City and Arsenal. He has won a staggering 49 of those and drawn the other three.
Jesus – recalled to the Arsenal starting line-up on Saturday in place of Bukayo Saka – netted his second of the game 10 minutes into the second half as the Gunners eased to a comfortable 4-1 win.
“I’m more happy with the three points than the goals,” the striker told Sky Sports.
“The most important thing is that everyone who has come in has played well. Everyone is playing so well. They made it easy for me.”
Jesus scored five goals in his first eight league games for the Gunners after joining in a £45m deal from City in July last year but had failed to find the net for the club since a 3-1 victory over north London rivals Tottenham on 1 October.
He has only recently returned from a knee injury that kept him out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but his return to goalscoring form could hardly be more timely for an Arsenal side chasing their first league title since 2004.
“I’m delighted for him,” Gunners boss Mikel Arteta said after the game. “We were all clapping for him. He brings that quality and unpredictability to the squad.
“He’s been working so hard for four or five months with a lot of support from the team and the staff.
“Today he deserved the chance to start. He grabbed the opportunity with a lot of conviction – and with two goals.”
The 25-year-old could have ended the game with the match ball, but he sent a firm header narrowly over Illan Meslier’s crossbar with the score still goalless.
“Jesus missed a big chance but then took no hesitation in stepping up and taking that penalty,” former Chelsea and Everton winger Pat Nevin told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It’s a huge moment for Arsenal and for Jesus himself. It’s games like these when you need your big players.”
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The win stretches Arsenal’s winning run in the top flight to seven games – and they have scored three or more goals in all but one of those victories.
They lacked rhythm and tempo for large parts of the first half against Leeds and were indebted to goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale for denying Rasmus Kristensen, Crysencio Summerville and Jack Harrison prior to Jesus’ opener.
But they dominated after taking the lead and were able to enjoy a comfortable second half after former Leeds defender Ben White had doubled their advantage a mere 100 seconds after half-time.
“In the first half there was a real lack of belief,” said Nevin. “But the second was magnificent.
“They weren’t anywhere near their best, [but] sometimes you have to win playing average.
“Arsenal aren’t just winning, they are cruising through games at the moment.”
Former England striker Alan Shearer told Match of the Day: “Arsenal had to be patient with Jesus’s injury and that has worked, he looked very sharp. Arsenal are looking good.
“I was there when they were beaten by Man City and I thought that was going to be a big test but they are passing it with flying colours. Man City have the bigger squad but Arsenal keep getting through the games and winning games. It is going to be an exciting run-in.”
City’s demolition of Liverpool earlier on Saturday maintained the pressure on Arteta’s team, but the Gunners boss – who celebrated his 100th win in charge against Leeds – insists his players are not feeling the heat in their bid to keep Pep Guardiola’s side at arm’s length.
“We can only focus on what we can control,” Arteta said. “I don’t look at the table and the other teams.
“I try to be focused on ourselves and prepare for the next game. We don’t waste energy on others.
White, who scored his second goal in four league appearances on Saturday, agreed with his manager.
“I don’t watch any football, so I was just focused on the game today,” he said.
“There’s a lot of noise going on outside, and everyone [here] is just keeping everything very quiet and just getting on with what we’re doing.
“We’re just keeping our heads down and working hard.”