EPL

Arsenal and Brazil striker Jesus undergoes successful knee surgery

By Sports Desk December 06, 2022

Arsenal and Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus has undergone successful knee surgery.

Jesus was ruled out for the remainder of the World Cup after sustaining an injury to his right knee during the Selecao's Group G clash with Cameroon.

Head coach Tite died reports that Jesus was already carrying an issue prior to featuring for the five-time world champions in Qatar.

According to unconfirmed reports in Brazil, Jesus will be absent for three months.

Premier League leaders Arsenal on Tuesday confirmed he has started his rehabilitation programme.

The 25-year-old has played a key role in the Gunners' impressive start to the Premier League season, which sees them five points clear at the summit after 14 games.

Jesus' tally of five goals is only bettered for Arsenal by Martin Odegaard (six), while only Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (nine) and team-mate Bukayo Saka (six) have registered more assists in the English top flight than his five.

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  • Mancini searching for Italy solutions as Southgate sends England Euros stars back to the well Mancini searching for Italy solutions as Southgate sends England Euros stars back to the well

    "It has now become a 'classico'," said Roberto Mancini ahead of the latest episode of Italy-England.

    Thursday's encounter – which kicks off Euro 2024 qualifying – will be the sides' fourth since Mancini took the Italy job in 2018 and their fifth since Gareth Southgate became England manager in 2016.

    Prior to this match, Southgate has only faced Germany more often, yet the Azzurri are one of just four opponents his England team have played without winning (also France, Colombia and Brazil).

    That sequence of results includes the Euro 2020 final, of course, and so revenge might be on the minds of the Three Lions.

    Of the 16 England players who played some part in that Wembley shoot-out defeat, 14 were named in Southgate's squad for this month's qualifiers. Raheem Sterling – one of the other two – was also name-checked by Southgate, missing due to injury.

    Rather than rebuild his side after coming so close, Southgate has stuck by his trusted lieutenants. He has handed out 20 or more caps to 22 different players across his England tenure and included 17 of those in his latest group – Sterling, again, is one of the other five.

    It figures that Southgate should have faith in the best England side since 1966, even if his predictable squad selections frustrate some supporters.

    Mason Mount and Marcus Rashford subsequently dropped out of the squad but were not replaced, with the manager seemingly reluctant to gamble on the introduction of a new face – particularly at this key juncture at the start of a new cycle.

    "Now you have to start again," Southgate explained last week. "I know exactly where our most senior players are with that challenge: they are ready.

    "The [Jordan] Hendersons, the [Harry] Kanes, they set the tone for that sort of mentality that is going to be needed."

    How Italy would love to have the problems that face Southgate, both in having to rally quickly following a World Cup campaign – one Mancini's men watched from home – and in juggling elite talents and having to shut the door to others.

    Less than two years have passed since Italy won the European Championship, yet the 17 players they used in the final were, on average, two years older than the 16 of England.

    If this is the last run for Southgate and some of his most reliable stars – and it surely is – the same was already true for Italy at the Euros.

    Only nine of those 17 players were retained by Mancini this month, naming a squad that included three teenagers and four uncapped players, along with the returning Matteo Darmian, whose last international outing pre-dates the Azzurri coach.

    Far from confidently regenerating his squad, however, Mancini is casting around for answers. He has capped 88 players in 57 matches; Southgate has capped 88 players in 81 matches.

    Where only five of England's 25-man squad have earned 10 caps or fewer under Southgate, there are 15 in the 30-man Italy group who are yet to reach that milestone under Mancini.

    Of course, that includes Darmian, but it also includes Mateo Retegui, an Argentinian-born, Argentinian-raised and Argentinian-based forward at Tigre.

    While his involvement prompted some controversy, going against Mancini's previous stance on calling up players not born in Italy, the coach explained: "In Italy, there are few. We are worse off than Southgate. If there is a chance to take new players, we take them."

    It is a high-pressure situation Retegui is entering, potentially being tasked with leading the line against the toughest opponents in Italy's group.

    Mancini has acknowledged his team cannot afford a slow start in a "very important" first game as they look to right the wrongs of their previous qualification campaign, but he has been left little choice but to take risks.

    By contrast, getting to major tournaments has not until now been a problem for the risk-averse Southgate.

    A 'classico' in Naples may yet inform the England boss whether that can remain the case with the same group of players at a third straight finals.

  • Toney, Botman... Joselu? The international newcomers out to make an impression Toney, Botman... Joselu? The international newcomers out to make an impression

    The first international window after a major tournament always offers the chance of a reset, with squads freshened up whether teams have failed or triumphed.

    It gives coaches the opportunity to reassess as they build towards the next competition.

    In Europe, qualifying for Euro 2024 begins, so there'll be a competitive edge to the majority of the fixtures.

    It's an ideal time for newcomers to the squads to assert themselves. Here, Stats Perform looks at the players aiming to do just that.

     

    ARGENTINA

    Lionel Messi finally got his hands on the biggest trophy of them all last year, as he led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar. Now, Lionel Scaloni will be looking to see what prospects he can bring into the squad as La Albiceleste aim to retain their Copa America title in 2024. Two friendlies against Panama and Curacao should give him the ideal chance to test out some newcomers.

    Nehuen Perez is enjoying a fine season in Serie A with Udinese and will be looking to improve on his one Argentina appearance, while Manchester City youngster Maximo Perrone has received his first international call. Perrone joined City from Velez Sarsfield in January, having only made his professional debut last year.

    BRAZIL

    Like Argentina, Brazil have a friendly – just the one – on the cards this month, though it is against World Cup semi-finalists Morocco. That should prove a tough test for the first match of Ramon Menezes' interim tenure.

    With Brazil still reeling from their quarter-final exit in Qatar, and key players such as Neymar and Richarlison injured, Menezes has named plenty of fresh faces in his squad.

    Among them is Rony, who has already scored six goals for Palmeiras in 2023, following a haul of 23 last year. Joao Gomes, who joined Wolves in January and has already netted in the Premier League, will also be hoping to make an impression, as will Andrey Santos. The 18-year-old is back on loan at Vasco de Gama from Chelsea but now has a chance to win his first cap.

    ENGLAND

    There were no new call-ups in Gareth Southgate's squad for England's Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine, but Ivan Toney was something of a surprise inclusion.

    That's not due to Toney's form – only Erling Haaland (28) and Harry Kane (21) have scored more Premier League goals than the Brentford striker (16) this season – but because he is under investigation over an alleged breach of Football Association betting rules.

    Toney was included in Southgate's final squad before the World Cup but did not make the cut for Qatar, and has not yet made a Three Lions appearance. Given his inclusion this time around, the 27-year-old, who has averaged a league goal every 140 minutes this season, will be hoping to make his mark.

    FRANCE

    Kylian Mbappe is the new France captain following Hugo Lloris' international retirement, which has left a spot to fill in goal. Milan's Mike Maignan is the natural successor though has struggled with injury this season. Meanwhile, Brice Samba received his first call-up as one of the three shot-stoppers.

    Samba left Nottingham Forest to join Lens last year and the 28-year-old has impressed in Ligue 1. His 78.1 save percentage is the third-best in the division out of goalkeepers to have played at least five games, while according to Opta's expected goals on target conceded (xGOT) model, he has prevented 5.2 goals, the fourth-best total in France's top tier.

    Khephren Thuram, son of 1998 World Cup winner Lilian Thuram and brother of France striker Marcus Thuram, is having a superb season at Nice and could look to force his way into Didier Deschamps plans for midfield, especially with the injury issues of N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba.

    GERMANY

    As hosts of next year's Euros, there'll be no competitive matches for Germany this month, though Hansi Flick's team will be looking to atone for their horror show in Qatar. Six uncapped players have been called up by Flick for friendlies against Peru and Belgium, including Milan defender Malick ThiawKevin Schade, on loan at Brentford from Freiburg, is another newcomer in the forward line.

    Marius Wolf has earned his first international opportunity at the age of 27. He has only scored one goal and provided one assist in 24 games this season, so perhaps he won't be the player who goes on to propel Germany to glory in 2024.

    ITALY

    There's three new faces in Italy's squad, though Roberto Mancini has been lamenting what he sees as a lack of homegrown talent at his disposal. Italy, of course, won the delayed Euro 2020, only to then fail to qualify for the World Cup.

    Of the three uncapped players in this selection, Mateo Retegui is certainly one to watch. The 23-year-old, Argentina-born striker holds dual citizenship and plays in the South American nation for Tigre.

    Retegui has scored 29 goals since the start of last season. Wladimiro Falcone and Alessandro Buongiorno are the other players who could win their first caps.

    NETHERLANDS

    Ronald Koeman has given five uncapped players an opportunity to impress in the first squad of his second spell in charge and Sven Botman is undoubtedly the biggest name. The Newcastle United defender was a surprise exclusion from Louis van Gaal's World Cup squad, but the 23-year-old centre-back has been given the nod by Koeman.

    Botman has helped Newcastle keep nine clean sheets in the Premier League, while he has made more blocks (15) than any of his defensive club-mates, though he will be hoping to avoid a mistake such as the one he made to gift Nottingham Forest a goal last week. 

    Xavi Simons, meanwhile, will be looking to make an impact further forward. The 19-year-old has scored 13 goals and provided six assists in the Eredivisie this season.

    SPAIN

    Most of the players on this list are on the younger side, but new Spain coach Luis de la Fuente has handed a first call-up to 32-year-old Joselu.

    The Espanyol forward, previously of Newcastle United and Stoke City, is one of LaLiga's leading scorers this season with 12 goals. Better late than never, perhaps?

    Osasuna's David Garcia is another newcomer, while Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias – who like Joselu has netted 12 times in LaLiga – was called up in place of the injured Gerard Moreno on Sunday.

  • No drugs, no crime, great World Cup: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his 10/10 Qatar experience No drugs, no crime, great World Cup: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his 10/10 Qatar experience

    What Zlatan Ibrahimovic likes most about Qatar is everything.

    He made that point in a Sweden press conference on Tuesday, giving 10/10 ratings to all aspects of the World Cup experience and saluting the country's lack of crime and drug problems.

    The 41-year-old Milan striker had no part to play in the Qatar 2022 finals, owing to Sweden's failure to qualify, but he was a guest at the final, being pictured at the Argentina versus France showpiece game along with tennis superstar Novak Djokovic.

    Asked for his impressions of the tournament and the country as a whole, Ibrahimovic said: "It was fantastic. As awesome as it gets. I was there for two days with the family."

    He gave a rundown of his ratings for all aspects he encountered, saying: "The organisation: 10 points. The experience: 10 points. The match: 10 points. Crowd: 10 points. The food: 10 points. The journey: 10 points. Everything was 10 points."

    When it was pointed out to Ibrahimovic that Qatar has faced criticism over alleged human rights abuses, Ibrahimovic stuck to his theme and gave a final mark to the country.

    "Ten points," he said.

    Pressure groups have claimed women and people from LGBTQ+ communities are particularly badly treated in Qatar, along with migrant workers.

    Amnesty International said ahead of the World Cup that hundreds of thousands of such workers had been exploited, pointing to thousands dying suddenly or unexpectedly.

    The same organisation said last week that "many thousands of workers have been unable to obtain compensation for horrific abuses linked to the World Cup", calling on football's world governing body FIFA to ensure this is rectified.

    Qatar has been accused by its critics of attempting to 'sportswash' its reputation by putting on a successful major event that runs smoothly and paints the country in a positive light internationally.

    Ibrahimovic will not be levelling such an accusation at Qatar's door, though, because he had a 10/10 time during his stay.

    Speaking in a further interview with broadcaster SVT, the former Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain striker added: "I think they have given opportunities to get a job. Then how they treated them, I haven't been there and seen, so I can't judge and answer those questions."

    Ibrahimovic played for PSG during the early years of the Qatar Sports Investments era at the Parc des Princes, and Qatari club chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi joined him and Djokovic in their World Cup final photo.

    The veteran Swede therefore has that close connection, and Ibrahimovic said: "Qatar as a country, I think it is a system that works. Are there drugs? No. Is there crime? No. Is there crime in Sweden? Yes, very much. Drugs? Yes.

    "Qatar's system works. The Swedish system? It works, but if it works 100 per cent, I don't know."

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