Tagged: Alexis Sanchez

Finally. With Alexis Sanchez Leading the Line Arsenal Begin to Look like the Arsenal of Old

The are still lots of wrinkles to iron out but one major positive for Arsenal this season is Alexis Sanchez leading the line for Arsenal.

Let’s get one thing out of the way really quickly though. For anyone who says Sanchez is a winger playing as a forward, you’re wrong. Going back to his Udinese days, and the few times he led the line at Barcelona, Sanchez is an attacker, not a forward or winger but capable of playing both quite efficiently. Some of his best work for Chile came when working in tandem with Eduardo Vargas, as a forward, even if Sanchez spent time dropping off out wide or back into midfield as you usually see when the national side plays. Got it? Good.

Now, back to Arsenal.

Folks will want to tip their hats to Arsene Wenger for making this adjustment but that’s a stretch. When Sanchez initially joined Arsenal, Wenger tried the Chilean up front and scrapped the experiment all too soon. He has featured there once or twice since but you would never think that this was the long-term plan for the Professor. Indeed, it was a surprise to see Sanchez start the Liverpool game at forward even with the other injuries and one expected Olivier Giroud to return once fully fit. He hasn’t reached that status yet so maybe that will occur but Wenger always has a preference for keeping a successful side together. So as long as Sanchez performs up top he’ll keep that spot. Does that mean he is now officially the No. 1 forward at Arsenal? That question will be answered as the season progresses.

Regardless, the improvement Sanchez brings to the Gunners in attack can be seen for all. There’s more fluidity, pace, creativity and improved pressing. Not to mention the improvement of the likes of Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott. These are the types of targets Ozil had at Real Madrid, not in case of overall quality or skills, but in Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria he had that same fluidity etc and not a stagnant, lumbering target man. His growing relationship with Sanchez is a prime example with that and his lovely volley against Swansea, his third assist from Sanchez, could be a sign of more to come the longer they play together.

Giroud has certainly done a job for the Gunners but I’ve always said he was a Plan B forward and not the type to be starting under Wenger. Nor is he one to be relied upon in big games as the manager put it, per the Guardian. He can come on to help change games or even start in certain circumstances to rest Sanchez or play him out wide. Giroud may very well be next in line as it seems new signing, Lucas Perez, is going the way of former No. 9 Park Chu-Young in terms of performances and impact at the Emirates. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen but right now it seems that was Wenger panic-buying, again, to please the masses.

There’s a long season to go yet and Wenger will also have to be careful to not burn Sanchez out as he has the last two seasons, so maybe Perez will get some playing time. If Wenger also decides that Danny Welbeck starts up front upon his return with Sanchez back on the wing then I won’t mind that either. Sanchez is the best option up front but Welbeck provides similar attributes and need a good run of games to solidify himself as a starting striker. There’s still some growing pains to work through offensively, as the Burnley game showed, though that was partly down to Wenger’s lack of rotation, but the signs are promising. There’s still issues at the back and midfield as well so this is by no means a change that will win silverware of any kind.

With Sanchez up front Arsenal are a better attacking outfit and reminiscent of the days when Thierry Henry led the line. Hoppefully in time the same type of silverware will begin to roll in as well.

Alexis Sanchez’s Disappointing Copa Forgotten with Title-Winning Penalty | Bleacher Report

Alexis Sanchez’s Disappointing Copa Forgotten with Title-Winning Penalty | Bleacher Report.

I wouldn’t say he had a poor Copa. Sure, the goals and assists weren’t there but I don’t think Chile would have been where they were without him. He, and Jorge Valdivia, were at the heart of everything good that Chile did from start to finish. That penalty was pure balls though.

What Arsene Wenger can learn from Chile’s use of Alexis Sanchez | FourFourTwo

What Arsene Wenger can learn from Chile’s use of Alexis Sanchez | FourFourTwo.

Agreed. I still want to see Alexis Sanchez lead the line for us and not Olivier Giroud and it would reduce the need to spend on another forward. A pairing of him and Danny Welbeck is pretty enticing and maybe the former Manchester United man needs a fellow forward to start banging in goals.

It won’t happen of course but it’s worth a thought.

The making of Alexis Sanchez, by those who helped him achieve greatness | FourFourTwo

The making of Alexis Sanchez, by those who helped him achieve greatness | FourFourTwo.

Great piece here. Not surprising to read about how he helps back home. Hope he gets on the score sheet in the Copa America soon. Been good so far otherwise.

Copa America superstars get off to different starts in Round 1 – Page 2 Sports – Page 2 Sports

Copa America superstars get off to different starts in Round 1 – Page 2 Sports – Page 2 Sports.

My piece for Page 2 Sports on how the Copa America stars performed in the first round of games.

Is Alexis Sánchez the best player in the Premier League? | David Hytner | Football | The Guardian

Is Alexis Sánchez the best player in the Premier League? | David Hytner | Football | The Guardian.

Too soon? Maybe.

I think Alexis Sanchez’s acclimatisation to the Premier League has been better than even his best supporter could’ve predicted. I’d agree with the author that all the attributes he brings together in one package make him that much more dangerous than a lot of his fellow attacking stars.

There really aren’t too many candidates on a similar level of form and quality, and probably none at a higher level. The first names that come to mind off the bat are Yaya Toure, David Silva, Eden Hazard, Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas and there’s a few others as well. It may be too soon to make the “Sanchez is the best” assertion with just over half of one season gone but it’s definitely a topic that can be argued about, and won. If he keeps this up, and Arsenal win a trophy of some sort then he’ll very likely get the recognition to confirm that status that in the end-of-year player awards. He may still get it even if he has no team silverware to show.

Until next time.

 

Arsenal’s Not Playing But There’s Still Plenty to Talk About

Manchester United is up next for the ever-frustrating Arsenal side, and many Gunners can’t wait to see how the club will bounce back from the 2-1 loss to Swansea that occurred before the international break.

With Olivier Giroud returning from injury, Yaya Sanogo morphing into the French Didier Drogba, Lukas Podolski being held hostage and Abou Diaby likely to keep his status as Arsene Wenger’s favorite “new signing” there’s been plenty to talk about.

Article links are in the headlines so you can just click on them to read as well.

Arsene Wenger can’t make any excuses for Arsenal’s recent results

No, he can’t. Not just because of the way Arsenal ended both games, we’re talking about Anderlecht and Swansea here, but because it’s happened time and again for the last 10 years. There’s really no excuses for Arsene Wenger against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City either.

Arsenal was winning trophies before they both came into money but arguably made the situation worse during the rise of those big-spending clubs by doing things such as selling key players and not getting the requisite cover in the necessary areas of the pitch. Stadium transition aside, it really doesn’t sit well that Arsenal couldn’t hold on to Cesc Fabregas(understandable but possibly could’ve been avoided) Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie. They probably left because of Wenger falling behind the times tactically just as much as they left because they saw no new signings as a lack of ambition while they wanted to win silverware. Which they did.

Wenger is running out of excuses and, frankly, should be running out of time, especially with a loss to a beleaguered, still getting used to Louis Van Gaal, Manchester United. A win would be nice boost but nothing to go head over heels for, a draw wouldn’t be so bad but a loss, especially if it’s one that shouldn’t have occurred depending on how the game goes, should drive the nail further in the coffin.

There can’t be any excuses for that, nor should they be if Dortmund trudge into the Emirates and waltz out with a win.

Welbeck must see off Giroud and Sturridge to continue progression

Welbeck’s Arsenal goal drought is a growing concern

A 2-in-1 here for Danny Welbeck.

Would be a fairytale if he scores against Manchester United this weekend. Either way, I’d prefer him keep his place as the main forward for the Gunners. Of course, form dictates things so he needs to start scoring again, otherwise he could take a confidence hit if the returning Olivier Giroud and Daniel Sturridge score goals and displace him.

He offers a lot of the same things Alexis Sanchez does in terms of movement, speed and work-rate but he needs to add the goals too. We’ll see what happens.

Arsenal frustration rising, but winter window offers second chance

Does it? Doubtful. As the author, John Cross, himself states;

There is money to spend in January and you wonder what the priority is — centre half or holding midfielder. I would imagine it is a centre half but give Wenger the cash and he’ll probably get a skillful midfielder who loves to get forward.

It honestly would be somewhat of a shock if one of the missing pieces is brought in during the winter window, and I think that’s dependent on who is injured and where Arsenal stand in the league. I think Andrei Arshavin was the last big January purchase. Nacho Monreal did come during the winter too, a more pragmatic move from Wenger, and I wouldn’t be up in arms too much if Wenger went that route, not Kim Kallstrom range though mind you, and waited until the summer to get a quality signing.

Arsenal have reason to celebrate Olivier Giroud return up front

Yay. Who cares?

Okay, yes, stated in the article his record against the smaller teams is good and he would add an element to Arsenal’s attack that none of the other attackers can with his style of play. Not our biggest concern by any means, though.  Giroud will offer another good option, coming of the bench preferably, but its the defense and midfield that need to be sorted.

If you think about the fact that Arsenal is still bedding in two new signings, Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez, and is without the player most likely to take advantage of their movements, Mesut Ozil, then it’s a bit understandable things are slow going at times. Giroud can help reduce that, which is fine, but I don’t think he should jump back into the starting lineup.

How Alexis Sanchez became the Premier League’s new Luis Suarez

I think anyone watching from his Udinese and Barcelona days would have thought this from the moment he signed for Arsenal. The comment in the last few parts of the article that Sanchez has a way to go to meet Luis Suarez’s standard from his last season with Liverpool is a bit harsh.

He’s already shown how important he is, and will be, for Arsenal. While one can certainly point to Suarez’s goalscoring record as evidence of him being better, I’d counter that the two, while very similar, are still different players.

Suarez has spent the majority of his time as a central forward in whatever teams he plays, though he’s certainly played wide as well. Sanchez, however, is just now seeing more time in the middle, similar to his best season at Udinese, and we already see how that’s working. I also think Sanchez is a bit more of a playmaker, just a bit, and his versatility means, unless he doesn’t want to or there is no other solid option centrally, he may play wide for Arsenal just as much as he plays in the middle.

Suarez arrives at Barcelona with Lionel Messi reverting to more of a creator-role, and thus his goal-scoring may, and should, remain potent. Sanchez never really had that opportunity but showed in his last season what he’s capable of.

Also, remember, Barcelona went for Alexis Sanchez first. They may have been interested in Suarez, and surely could’ve gotten him if they tried hard enough, but they picked up Sanchez.

Back to the fun this weekend when Manchester United come to town.

Until next time.

Arsenal 3 – 0 Burnley: 3 Wins in A Row and Counting….

Well. That was fun.

At least, for me it was just a half of fun. I, thankfully, missed the first half struggle of Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Burnley due to practice for my own big game the next day. Which my team won in very dramatic fashion, thank you very much.

But enough about me.

The second half that I did watch was more of the same from Arsenal. There was the lack of cutting edge in front of goal plus the occasional moments of worry in defense. It looked like another two points dropped despite all the domination. Until Alexis Sanchez.

Sanchez again proved the man of the moment, and so far the season, for Arsenal with the opening goal of the game. That he powered in a header in a fashion few of his teammates would, or could, have goes to highlight all the positives the Chilean has brought to the Arsenal attack. Hopefully we won’t be too dependent on him moving forward.

With Theo Walcott now back, Lukas Podolski getting a few more cameos and (sigh) Olivier Giroud’s return in a month or so, Sanchez may get the rest he needs in a crucial part of the season so he can make it through unscathed. He’s not used to no winter break and, though there is no Capital Cup to contend with, that period will have to be navigated carefully where he’s concerned. I’m not as worried about the Chilean as I was with Mesut Ozil but if the dependency continues then some rest will be needed.

Sanchez aside, Calum Chambers opened his account for the Gunners, there was another clean sheet and it does look a bit like confidence is returning at the Emirates. Arsenal now sits in fourth place after three straight wins. It could be five before the last international break of the year. Anderlecht(home) and Swansea(away) are up next.

Swansea definitely presents the tougher challenge at this time but we can’t look past Anderlecht at all, especially given their speed on the break. I hope not to see Sanchez bail us out of those games as well but if it needs to be done then so be it. Other teams are struggling so the Gunners need to make the best of the current set of fixtures.

In other news, Arsenal has been linked with Barcelona’s Pedro and Spartak Moscow’s Romulo.  Silly season is around the corner as well.

Until next time.

 

Alexis Sanchez: New Arsenal Star Is Wenger’s Best Buy in the Last Few Seasons | Bleacher Report

Alexis Sanchez: New Arsenal Star Is Wenger’s Best Buy in the Last Few Seasons | Bleacher Report.

My piece for Bleacher Report on Alexis Sanchez’s being the best Arsenal transfer in recent times.