Just as was the case with last year’s signing of a marquee player in Mesut Ozil for Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez’s arrival from Barcelona for a reported fee of 30 million pounds generated a cauldron of anticipation, excitement and fanfare. The Chilean was among the World Cup’s revelations, aiding and abetting his side’s sweeping counter-attacking and dynamic game, leading them to the last 16 – before being knocked out of the cup by host nation, Brazil.
Fans have eagerly been waiting with bated breath to see the former Barca man don a Gunners jersey, but have been forced to prolong their wait even longer after news broke that he wasn’t able to travel with the squad due to visa difficulties. As a result, the Chile striker will stay back in England to work with the club’s fitness coaches, as he hopes to make his debut for Arsenal in the Emirates Cup clash against Benfica over the weekend. And with his imminent debut, we take a look at just where Sanchez will fit in Wenger’s side.
For the Chilean to blossom, he must be deployed as an attacker – and last season’s statistics only prove testament to that. Sanchez’s attacking stats are a joy to read; he had a goalscoring rate of 0.72 per 90 minutes of soccer – fourth in La Liga, behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale. Furthermore, his versatility will make a dinosaur difference for the club; last year he occupied the right flank, while the season prior saw him switch flanks often for the Catalan side. While in the stripes of Udinese – prior to his move to Barca – he often assumed the playmaker role or the occasional forward position.
Wenger will definitely deploy him on the wing, noticing the lack of pace in his side after injury befell Theo Walcott. With a tackle tally of 58 and 915 passes, 41 of which were key, he will be a welcoming addition should Wenger go with a 4-3-3 formation. With Sanchez occupying one flank and a hopefully-fit Walcott mirroring him on their other side, teams will be left licking their wounds after super counter-attacking football by the Gunners seem destined to hurt them.
Alternatively, he could be deployed to support Giroud atop the pyramid, benefitting from the intelligent and delicately-weighed passes by Ozil. In Sanchez, the German will find the perfect pair of feet to aim his delightful passes to, while Arsenal will be grateful for the work rate he will put in as well as the sublime dribbling skills that is likely to see him contribute to the number of goals scored by the side.
One thing is for sure; the side is now ripe with creativity, offered from avenues like Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. With such talent in their arsenal, fans may not be too disappointed if they were to expect goals similar to Wilshere’s against Norwich City in their 4-1 win. That was arguably the goal of the season, combining deft one-touch passes between Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud before the Englishman nestled the ball in the net… More please!
By Hussein Jiva