Oleksandr Zinchenko has heaped praise on Gabriel Jesus after witnessing his commitment to getting back to full fitness and score crucial goals for us again.
Our Brazilian striker netted twice against Leeds United last weekend to put his four-month injury ordeal behind him, and having had a close-up view of the gruelling rehab Gabby went through to regain his place, his former Manchester City teammate was thrilled to see his friend back doing what he does best - getting on the scoresheet.
“I’m so happy for him because I saw him most days during his rehab and how he was working so hard to be back on track,” Alex said. “Maybe some people think that when you’re injured you just relax or are resting, but no - when you are injured you have to work twice as much as those who are fit.
“He is a special person in my life. He is an example of how hard you have to work every single day and have the right attitude. In the simple exercises we have, normally guys might use 50 per cent of their focus, but he is like an animal. There are a lot of frustrating moments in football such as when you don’t play much or you didn’t play well in the last game, but his reaction after those moments is incredible.
“When I was at City, I was like: ‘that’s the way you have to react to those moments’, and he was always the best on the training pitch. It’s a pleasure to have those kind of teammates.”
Gooners everywhere will be hoping that Gabby can once again grab a goal or two this weekend as we travel to Merseyside to take on Liverpool, with the Reds heading into the encounter in eighth position in the Premier League table.
Despite that, Alex is not under any illusions that this will be an easier trip to Anfield than usual, especially given that we haven’t won at the famous old ground for over 10 years.
He also admits that he feels as though he has a point to prove after ending the game against Leeds frustrated with his performance, despite us running out 4-1 victors - proof if you needed it of the winning mentality he has helped inject into our changing room.
“I was happy with the three points but not happy with the goal we conceded,” Alex said about last week. “I didn’t play well in that moment so that’s why I was so angry. Three points are always the priority, but for me as a defender, you want to get a clean sheet as well.
“Everyone knows how dangerous Liverpool are, they’re an amazing team so it doesn’t matter where they are in the table. Every single game against them is a massive game, especially at Anfield as it is a special place where you never know what’s going to happen.”
With us sitting on top of the table and Alex aiming for a third-straight Premier League winner’s medal, he is having no regrets about making the move from Manchester City to the team he supported as a boy back in the summer.
He admits that working under Mikel Arteta in Manchester made all the difference when it came to working out where his next career move lay, and revealed he wouldn’t have opted to work under any other manager in England than our boss.
“I knew Mikel for a while when I was at City, and he knows me as well as a player and a person,” the Ukrainian skipper continued. “The impact he had - and still has - on me is a lot because I said many times that if I was going to leave City and stay in the Premier League, it would be for only one manager, which is him.
“The way he sees football, his vision, his character - he’s a winner and that’s what I like the most about people. I had a couple of conversations before I joined and he told me what he wanted to see from me, the club’s vision and I liked everything.
“I can’t be grateful enough for the warm welcome the supporters gave me. They started to sing my song after just five minutes of my first Premier League game - I couldn’t even dream of that. My wife was in the stadium at Palace and she also couldn’t believe it, she thought I had brought some friends to sing my song!
“This season the energy from the fans and the belief they have boosts us a lot. Even away from home, they do their best to push us forward, which I really appreciate.”
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