Arsenal V West Ham in pictures
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta can save himself a fortune by recalling Folarin Balogun as a replacement for Gabriel Jesus. The Brazil striker is could miss up to three months with the knee injury he picked up while on World Cup duty and Balogun could be the most cost-effective option to help take pressure off Eddie Nketiah while the 23-year-old picks up the main goalscoring burden.
Jesus has been one of Arsenal’s best players over the course of the season, having a transformational impact on the club’s attacking output since his summer arrival from Manchester City. While he will be unhappy to have only found the net on five occasions, his ability to link play is unrivalled with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard all massively benefitting from his presence.
As a result, his knee injury understandably caused concern within the Arsenal fan base. He subsequently had surgery to correct the issue and while no timescale has been put on his recovery it has been said he could miss as much as three months of action.
Nketiah showed promising signs as he replaced the 25-year-old against West Ham on Boxing Day. The Englishman linked play well and was a handful for Craig Dawson and Thilo Kehrer throughout the match before scoring the match-clinching third. It was an excellent finish too, turning the German defender before firing into the bottom corner.
However, the 23-year-old is still developing and cannot be expected to be the Gunners sole option up front for the forseeable future. There may come a time where he needs a rest and this is where Balogun could come in, negating the need for the club to spend millions in the transfer market.
The 21-year-old is currently enjoying an excellent loan spell in Ligue 1 with Stade Reims netting 10 goals in 16 appearances. He has hit the ground running following the World Cup hiatus too, netting a double in Thursday’s encounter with Rennes as the club entered the top half of the table.
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It is believed Arsenal included a recall clause within his contract at this is something they could activate should Arteta recognise his potential as an option within his squad. Though, given how well he is performing in France the Spaniard may also decide to leave him where he is in order to continue his development.
Jesus’ injury was a major blow to the Emirates faithful but his absence does not appear to have affected the club’s Premier League title chances as yet. It remains to be seen whether or not Arteta will take up the option of recalling Balogun but he could save himself millions if he does.
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