Gabriel Jesus wants his new team to be tough after being historically labeled as a team

Gabriel Jesus won’t be bullied in Premier League next season and wants Arsenal to be tougher

It took less than 90 minutes for familiar accusations to surface: Arsenal are soft. They can be intimidated.

“New season, same old story,” said Jamie Carragher of their opening day defeat to Brentford in the 2021-22 campaign.

A year later, Gabriel Jesus took the 90 seconds of that US tour to suggest he would help turn the dial.

Gabriel Jesus wants his new team to be tough after being historically labeled a ‘soft’ side

It was the striker’s first start after a £45m transfer from Manchester City, the opening showdown of Arsenal’s friendly against Everton. Jesus got tangled up with Yerry Mina inside the box and then, when the defender tried to protect the ball, the Brazilian knocked it down.

Never mind that Mina, a former teammate, is eight inches taller than Jesus. Never mind that it’s supposed to be The Charm City Match.

“Sometimes defenders kick you so much that your reaction is to kick too,” Jesus said.

Gabriel Jesus claims his move to Arsenal

Gabriel Jesus says moving to Arsenal ‘was the best decision’ he could have made this summer

“Always in my life I try to be calm, to focus on the game, because anything can happen.” But? ‘In the end, sometimes it’s something I have to do too.

“Sometimes they almost broke my leg and the referee said no and laughed in my face. Sometimes the referee has to protect the attackers. Unfortunately, help is not always available. “So sometimes we protect ourselves.”

Against Everton, the 25-year-old did more – he scored one goal and created the other as Arsenal kicked off a tour which ends against Chelsea on Saturday night.

The 25-year-old has scored three goals in his first three games for Mikel Arteta's side

The 25-year-old has scored three goals in his first three games for Mikel Arteta’s side

“I once played with Mina in Palmeiras and we were so close to each other, and after – I don’t know why – he started touching me, pinching my chest and then talking shit” , added Jesus. .

“I’m not a kid anymore and I went straight to him too.” His words will go down well in North London. And with manager Mikel Arteta, who recognized that Arsenal needed more street smarts.

It helps explain why he wanted Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko, another summer signing from former club City who Arteta believes will add more ‘points’ to his squad.

But there is also their quality. Already, Jesus’ tenacity, sharpness and invention seem to have kicked Arsenal’s attack into high gear. His tally of goals stands at three in as many pre-season games.

Arsenal's new No.9 and No.11 sit and chat on the bikes as they continue pre-season training

Arsenal’s new No.9 and No.11 sit and chat on the bikes as they continue pre-season training

“I don’t want to be the main man here, I don’t want to be a superstar,” Jesus insisted this week. It could be difficult.

One way to share the limelight is to share the burden: against Nuremberg and Orlando City, Jesus played alongside compatriot Eddie Nketiah and Arteta is keen to nurture their partnership.

‘It was so good to play with him,’ said Jesus. “Eddie has a lot of qualities – he holds the ball, he’s stronger, he spins. He is very good and he is still young. I’m too.’

At only 25 years old, and yet already a former statesman at Arsenal. For the other members of Arteta’s young squad, Jesus could be a vital source of guidance.

The 25-year-old Brazilian has praised some of Arsenal's youngsters

The 25-year-old Brazilian has praised some of Arsenal’s youngsters

“I’m not like that because I’ve been through something younger people haven’t been through yet, I want to talk about,” he said. “I just showed in the training session working hard and that was it. If they want to come talk to me, they can.

Chelsea reportedly tried to hijack Arsenal’s deal for the Brazilian. In the end, however, the striker opted for Europa League football. Why?

“When we started talking about the transfer, it was with Edu and I knew then that Mikel wanted me,” explained Jesus. “They showed me the project and then they showed me stuff about my stats and I was so surprised.”

Arteta has proven to be a valuable bargaining chip in negotiations with potential signings. “I worked with him at City so I know him a bit,” Jesus said. “He helped me a lot to improve my finish after training sessions.”

Now Jesus is aiming for more trophies with his new side. They might not come easily but the Brazilian has already shown he’s up for scrap

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