He is without a doubt the living embodiment of the Energizer Bunny. If Santi Cazorla is the engine, Mesut Özil the gasoline then Alexis Sanchez is the raw horsepower that drives the Arsenal forward. If Arsenal are going to challenge for the title it will be on the back of Alexis Sanchez.
With another two goals scored yesterday, Sanchez continues to just keep moving on. Ignore that he had a mini drought. He is still a handful even when he’s not scoring.
Simply put Arsenal will go as far as Alexis Sanchez will take us. If he has a serious break down it could derail everything. I say could but there is no underestimating the importance of Sanchez to Arsenal.
Look at his stats from yesterday (Courtesy Daily Canon)
- Goals 2
- 74 touches
- 47 passes, 34 completed
- 72.3% pass accuracy
- 23/34 attacking third passes
- 2/3 takeons
- 2 crosses
- 4 shots (all with his right foot)
- 2 shots on target
- 1 woodwork strike
- 5 key passes
- 5 chances created (4 from open play, 1 from set piece)
- 2 dribbles
- 2 tackles
- 6 ball recoveries
- 1/2 aerial duels
Was he perfect no? But he was and always is influential on a match. That was evident yesterday with his MOTM performance.
We wonder when does this guy rest? He plays even when he should be taking some time off. He came back from international duty carrying a thigh injury. Against United he didn’t score but he still ran his butt off and made United worry a little.
Against Bournemouth he was too much to handle. Leading the press from the front his pressure forced the defender to pass back to his keeper rather than forward to the winger in front of him. It was an underhit pass that Sanchez was quickly able to get on and of course score.
Wenger in his post-game comments heaped praise on his new striker conversion project:
Even when he looks dead, he’s still alive and always finds the resources to do something special. He has that conditioning which allows him to always find an extra gear to be dangerous.
It’s a great comment. There were moments when Sanchez looked off. There are moments in every game when he looks like he doesn’t have it but he always seems to find that extra gear to at least attempt something audacious.
Its even more remarkable when you consider how much football Sanchez plays in a given year. Prior to joining Arsenal he had played around 60+ games for both Barca and Chile. In F365 today they worked out that since his arrival in 2014 he has played 146 matches averaging a game every 5.8 days.
Now while Raymond Verheijen would lament this overuse of a player. It’s clear that come hell or high water Alexis Sanchez wants to play and will play barring anything save for losing both arms and legs – and even then . . .
He has the instincts to drive any team forward. He runs everywhere and anywhere to play a part in the match. Need defensive cover? No problem he will drop deep to help out. Not getting the ball forward for him? Don’t worry he drop back to receive the ball and work tirelessly to beat endless 1v1s 1v2 situations.
He has a pedigree worthy of the two pooches who make up his life outside of Arsenal (we can’t wait for the Atom and Humber 2017 calendar.) He is as relentless as a working group dog and is as loveable as man’s best friend – you only need watch his post-match interview from yesterday to see that.
What we want now is for the team to take on the personality of this Chilean bull terrier. And in some respects it may be doing just that.
Sanchez’s “never die” attitude is evidenced in the whole team in that even when not performing well they manage to grind out a result. Even when we look abjectly woeful, we still manage to dig down and find an extra level.
For a team that for so long was looking for an identity it may be finding courtesy of Mr. Sanchez. This is a team that works hard and believes in one another. And when you
listen to Alexis Sanchez talk about the game he is as humble as he is a hard worker. He believes in his team and teammates and they believe in him.
The trust exhibited by him and Mesut Özil leads to orgasmic connections. Some resulting in goals others, not so much but still a delight to watch.
I think to that early moment in yesterday’s match when Sanchez chipped a defender to get the ball to Özil. Özil, anticipating the movement of his partner quickly dinks the ball back. The only thing keeping the ball from deliciously going into the net was the bobble the ball took before Sanchez took the shot.
Sanchez’s teammates know he is going to be there. That regardless of what they do, he will always be available and participating and that is infectious.
Now, let’s not confuse this of over reliance on one man. Arsenal are blessed with depth this season. And if Sanchez were to go out, Arsenal would still likely be able to win matches. It’s just that with Sanchez on the pitch you know Arsenal are never truly out of touching distance of winning a match.
It remains to be seen if Alexis will stay beyond his first contract. Wenger as he is always, seems optimistic publically. Keeping Alexis (and Özil) beyond his contract is going to take opening up that gilded war chest we’ve often heard of. That powder we’ve kept dry, needs to be used.
If Arsenal are to challenge for the title – it will be in no small part to Alexis Sanchez.
All The Goals