Gabriel Jesus pinpoints moment Arsenal lost Premier League title race
Gabriel Jesus has pinpointed the exact moment that Arsenal lost the Premier League.
The Gunners had their best chance of winning the Premier League for the first time in 19 years last season.
However, they stumbled at the last hurdle as Manchester City showed no mercy and won 12 in a row to trump Arsenal to the title.
While Pep Guardiola’s men looked relentless in their quest for a third title in a row, there is a tinge of regret from Mikel Arteta.
At one stage, Arsenal led City by 11 points at the top before relinquishing control.
And Jesus has identified the loss of William Saliba as the crucial moment that cost them the title.
“When he [Saliba] plays, we concede few goals, when he doesn’t play, the number [of goals conceded] increases,” said Jesus.
“When I got injured, Eddie [Nketiah] replaced me very well.
“Then we signed Leo [Trossard). We kept the pace. But when Saliba got injured, it was complicated.
“The other defenders are good, but we were playing in a certain way. Look at the stats, we concede a lot less with him.”
While Saliba had been a star player under Arteta last season, Rob Holding had big shoes to fill when he was brought into the fold.
And it ended ultimately in disaster, particularly against City.
Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne had Holding toiling in a 4-1 thrashing that saw the title race swing in Guardiola’s favour.
City were always in the ascendancy then while Arteta turned to Jakub Kiwior in defence after some poor displays from Holding, including against Southampton, West Ham and Liverpool – all three ending in high-scoring draws.
Meanwhile, Saliba’s absence continued to be a mystery after getting injured in March as Arteta admitted he did not know when he would return.
The centre-back had missed just 14 minutes of action prior to a Europa League clash against Sporting in March.
He had helped keep 12 clean sheets in that time, losing just three times in the Premier League.
However, a back issue that he suffered against the Portuguese side would go on to prove a bigger problem than first expected.
It saw the Frenchman miss the next 12 games, coinciding with a poor run of form from Arsenal that saw them lose to City, Brighton and Nottingham Forest.