Can Arsenal rely on Gabriel Jesus?

• Inconsistent performances

• A worrying injury record

• No striker signing could prove costly

Nottingham Forest v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal FC - Premier League / Will Palmer/Allstar/GettyImages

With his performances and injury record being brought into question, many have started to question whether Arsenal can rely on Gabriel Jesus for the remainder of the season.

Arsenal's striking department has faced serious criticism for much of the season, with Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah having a combined goal tally of just nine in the Premier League this season.

The former, in particular, has experienced a massive drop off from last season, when he scored 11 goals and, combined with his injury woes, fans have started to question how much the Gunners can rely on him moving forward.

In what is going to prove to be a vital second half of the season for Arsenal, as we look to go all the way in the Premier League and Champions League, can the club rely on Jesus to lead our attack, and will the Gunners regret not signing a striker in the January transfer window?

The best ability is availability

Gabriel Jesus
Arsenal FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

The phrase 'the best ability is availability' is often banded around in football but, in the case of Jesus, it could not be more fitting.

The 26-year-old has missed 27 games for club and country through injury over the last two seasons, which has seen him miss numerous big games for Arsenal, including a vital run during our pursuit of the title last season.

After our win against Nottingham Forest, Mikel Arteta revealed: "We really need him at his best. [...] He had some fluid in his knee and he was struggling. He was kicking every physio out there 2 days ago, saying 'I want to be on the pitch'."

While we can admire Jesus' determination to play in the game, it raises even more questions about his fitness and casts doubt as to whether or not Arsenal can rely on the Brazilian moving forward. There are now doubts about his status for Liverpool's visit.

With Nketiah's form also anything but certain, and seeming to have taken a dramatic decline in recent months, it is worrisome that our only alternative could miss a prolonged period at any given time, and is arguably likely to do so.

Questionable output

Gabriel Jesus
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal FC - Premier League / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

This season, when fit, Jesus has netted just eight goals in 22 appearances, which while not awful, is a way away from what many would expect from our star striker.

An even bigger issue is the chances that he has missed, having missed six big chances (as defined by SofaScore), which has left fans frustrated on several occasions during the season.

The overall quality of his output seems to have taken a serious decline and is not at a level where I, personally, feel as though we can entrust our season in his performances.

While he offered two goal contributions, including a goal, in our last game, he had scored just one goal in his last seven appearances before that fixture, a record that is not flattering for a striker of a team looking to challenge for major honours.

A mistake to not sign a striker?

The January transfer window slammed shut on Thursday night and, as you will know, the Gunners failed to sign a single player in the window.

It has been widely reported that Arsenal, among a host of other clubs, are being very wary of financial fair play (FFP) and the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules, which makes it somewhat understandable that we did not complete any unjustified business - but our need for a striker is unquestionable.

Many fans have suggested that signing a striker was a non-negotiable if we wanted to end the season with any kind of silverware, which could spell trouble ahead after the club failed to do so.

Ultimately I think that we would all rather the club followed the rules and avoided any possible punishment(s) than signing a striker who may not have been our top target anyway, but that does not mean that we may not still regret the decision come May.