When the signing of Alexis Sanchez was announced there was air of excitement that in recent memory can only be compared to that of Mesut Özil. Rated as one best attacking players in the world, his inclusion could improve any team. Coming off a stellar World Cup, where Sanchez was the dynamic effect in an impressive Chilean team it was safe to say that given the right conditions he would thrive wonderfully. Arsenal were sure that they had struck gold.
The obvious benefit of having Sanchez in the side is that he would give a midfield teeming with talent, a more lethal goalscoring outlet to play alongside Giroud and Walcott. The biggest individual benefactor would be Özil who had struggled in the latter part of the previous season arguably not for the want of trying. He needed another world class player with a winner’s history to help him carry the Arsenal side. Over and above all, he would bring a supreme locker of on field dribbling skills that had been sorely missed at the Emirates. The same freedom that allowed him to shine would afforded to him at Arsenal he would not have to worry about playing in the shadow of Lionel Messi.
When Sanchez debuted in the preseason there was an air of expentacy and although he failed to produce anything particularly noteworthy, the signs were positive: high work ethic and a determination to surge forward. As the season progressed in its earlier stages, it was clear Sanchez was good player however, there were elements of his game that were bothersome.
His communication with his teammates was completely off. Sanchez would run too soon, teammates would see his runs late, he would pass the ball too late. Not too worrying as poor initial communication was expected of him when moving to a new league and culture. The second and more worrying issue was that he was completely contradictory to “Wengerball”. While Wengerball requires quick and precise onetouch passing in the final third much to the frustration of his teammates Sanchez would hold on to the ball too long and take too many touches. For a few games, he looked like a great player playing in the wrong system… again. Tactically he was too similar to Cazorla, making Arsenal heavily predictable in both areas of the pitch. Patience was needed for him to adapt his style of play. When he finally adapted, it was like the birth of dream Arsenal fans had been dreaming for months. The king was born!
Arsenal’s top goal scorer and top assister after Christmas, coming out Messi’s shadow has allowed Sanchez to shine brilliantly. Watching him play weekin and weekout with cannon on his chest is phenomenal. Arguably the best attacking player Premier League, in a world where Messi and Ronaldo did not exist he would be right up there competing for the highest individual accolades. His technique and awareness around the box are world class but,
by far one of his biggest attributes cannot ne measured in postmatch statistics: his drive and determination. Arsenal players of late have been missing that drive and focus that separate champions from simple Top 4 contenders. Watch Alexis Sanchez dribble past 3 players and fire his shot against the woodwork. Instead of crumbling to the ground in a heap feeling sorry for himself, he tracks back 25 yards, disrupting an impending counter attack. Watch Alexis Sanchez dribble in the box and win a penalty only to have his spot kick saved. Instead of swearing and clapping his hands in frustration,he chases after the loose ball and wins a corner, and is immediately ready to fire it into the box. That’s what makes Sanchez different from evey other player in the red and white. Arsenal has no lack of technically gifted players but is barren of players with a winning mentality. If only that focus and neversaydie attitude rubs off onto the rest of the squad, combined with the already obvious bags of talent.
If only Arsenal could have a team of Sanchez’ maybe Wenger’s men would have a serious chance of acquiring silverware this season and building one of those dynasties Gunners can speak of decades to come.