MIKEL ARTETA must deliver this season and has no excuses if Arsenal fail.
That’s the verdict of ex-Gunners striker Alan Smith, who believes new striker Gabriel Jesus is a game-changer for their top-four hopes.
Ex-Manchester City duo Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko were in Arsenal‘s line-up for Friday night’s Premier League opener at Crystal Palace.
And Sky Sports pundit Smith claims, after three years in charge, Arteta has finally assembled the right ammunition to make the Gunners serious contenders for silverware.
The former England star told Sky Bet: “He’s been given the time and the transfer windows to bring in his sort of players and get out those who aren’t his sort, so it’s his team now and that brings with a bit of pressure.
“It is time to deliver but I’m so pleased that the board stuck with him because there were times when his coat looked on a shaky peg and at another club he might have been out.
“But he’s got the backing of the owners, the board and he’s been given money to spend, they clearly have faith in him.
“Listen, if they start off badly and are floating about in mid-table, of course there are going to be questions asked.
“But if they are having a nibble at that top four, then I think the optimism that Arsenal fans have at the moment will be maintained.”
Signing Brazil frontman Jesus particularly excites Smith.
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He said: “I think Arsenal are better than where they were last season.
“I don’t know about much better ahead, but I think Gabriel Jesus is the missing link in terms of how they construct their attacks.
“People at Arsenal have spoken about his movement and what he gives the team and how he can link up with those boys just behind, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith-Rowe and the like. I think he will transform them.”