Mikel Arteta admits it is a fine balancing act to keep Gabriel Jesus playing his natural game while trying to prevent the Arsenal forward from getting suspended.
A battler on the pitch, Jesus has already picked up four yellow cards in the Premier League this season – another would land him a one-match ban.
The Brazil international, who has also scored four goals across seven Premier League games since joining from Manchester City, will lead the line as north London rivals Tottenham visit the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
A booking in the derby would rule Jesus out of the clash with Liverpool next Sunday but Arteta said he is not about to start asking his striker to change his approach.
“It’s a thin balance,” he said.
“It’s in his nature, he gets a lot of contact and puts his foot and his body on the line in every situation.
“He’s a been a bit unlucky with the number of yellow cards that he had. Some of them we could not prevent because they were a little bit disciplinary, but yeah we want to avoid that for sure.”
Emotions certainly went unchecked when the two clubs met at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as Spurs ran out 3-0 winners in what was essentially a play-off for a Champions League spot.
Rob Holding was sent off and Arteta fumed at the performance of referee Paul Tierney while goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale later admitted in Amazon’s ‘All Or Nothing’ documentary that the team “became unstuck”.
Asked whether the likes of Jesus and fellow new recruit Oleksandar Zinchenko could help by keeping their emotions in check for such a big game, Arteta replied: “It’s a different context. We go to that game as well with many different circumstances in terms of players that we had available and not available to play that game.
“What happened in that. You take the lessons, you learn from it and you move on.”
When asked if his squad had learned from it, the Spaniard simply said: “Yes.”
Arsenal go into the weekend top of the Premier League table having won six of their opening seven games but would be leapfrogged by Spurs if they lose.
“The journey they’ve had since Antonio (Conte) joined and how things have changed and the team that he’s building, and the very clear identity they have in their way of playing. Obviously we know that both teams expect a tough match tomorrow,” added Arteta.
“The mentality doesn’t change, we have to go game by game. We need to look to get better and improve in many areas we need to get better at and to be humble, but at the same time ambitious. That’s our way forward to achieve what we want.”
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1