The Curious Case of Alexis

Courtesy ; Sky Sports.

Alexis Sanchez. Among the top two players in the current Arsenal squad along with, of course, Mesut Ozil. Strong, powerful runner, a great dribbler, super ball control, lots of goals and lots of assists and no doubt, lots of times been a match winner too. He does things not many in this Arsenal team can do. 24 goals and add to that 10 more assists in the Premier League last season tells you how important he is to the team.

There is no question as to which player we looked at to get us out of trouble and get us those goals and save some points. But Alexis has also put us in a lot of trouble last season. For any player, leave alone a player of his calibre, he was dispossessed a total number of 656 times (contributing to a massive 15% of the entire team’s stat) in the 2016-17 season. That’s over a 100 more than second placed Christian Benteke who is at 529. Shocking. I still remember the game from last season against Sunderland at home where he was dispossessed some 20 times; but ended up scoring the goals to secure the 3 points.

Now, I’m not saying that he shouldn’t take on defenders, but he needs to pass the ball quicker than he does. He tries to beat one defender too many and ends up getting in a complicated situation resulting in turnover of possession. There have been multiple occasions when I’ve seen other players making runs and getting into really dangerous positions yet they’ve not been found by Alexis who’s busy trying to dribble his way past defenders. It’s not necessary for him to do it all on his own always.

Alexis needs to grow more as a player who plays for the team. He needs to understand that there are others players too who can score goals and create opportunities. The reason I say this is that he had the quality of players like Messi and Neymar when he was at Barcelona. It is hard to get that quality at Arsenal or any other club for that matter. Not always is he going to have players who are technically so sound and so very good with the ball at their feet and score goals for fun. He needs to adapt to those around him.

Arsenal has never been a player-centric team. We’ve always had a lot of players involved in a move. For a player to come in and change the way a team plays its football is hard to digest. But the impact he had straight away, somewhat makes the team give the ball to him when in the final third. He needs to involve more players and not just look for Mesut Ozil most of the times which gives a feeling that he doesn’t trust other players to make something happen. Yes, Ozil is world class. But then it takes us back to the point of adapting.

It would be thrilling to watch a front three of Alexis, Lacazette and Ozil this season. If they work as a unit, then we will see the football flowing. These three players need to grow as a unit and not as individuals always. Two of them – Alexis and Ozil have been a part of the team that has failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in our history. These two also go into their last year of contract and looking at what happened in the transfer window, it seems like this is definitely going to be Alexis’ last season here. Transfer sagas can be tough on players. Arsene being rigid with a want away Alexis could be a tricky situation for the club to be in. We all saw how poor Oxlade-Chamberlain was against Liverpool; his mind was made up that he wanted to move out of the club – leave alone a move to Liverpool is what he wanted. Manchester City and Pep have chased Alexis towards the end of the transfer window and even when away on international duty, Alexis’ mind has not been on football. The season has only begun and there’s a long way ahead and it is a big concern as to how Alexis will respond to the fact that he has to play for Arsenal against his wish. You’d expect him to be professional about it and not let the City move affect his game.

We struggled in the second half of last season. There have been times I’ve wondered as to why I am watching the game, it has been that unattractive, boring even. There have been games when we’ve found it hard to unlock some of the league’s poorest defences and scrapped through the games. These have been the games when Alexis has been really poor overall but has turned up with the goals that have won us the game and the 3 points. He’s a beast, he really is. On his day, he will torment any defence with his skills on the ball; but if it is not his day, he just cannot keep it simple.


Kshitij Gokhale

One Response to “The Curious Case of Alexis

  • So frustratingly true. Alexis is an enigma in this way. When you consider his amazing goals/assists record against his propensity to give away possession, you start to understand why so often the balance in last year’s team and the flow of our game is poor compared to previous years teams. I really hope that we make a concerted effort to share possession and passing better this year. We need Alexis, Ozil and Lacazette to play to their strengths and show trust in our whole team. If we maintain a positive attitude and play with speed, passion and good decision-making, favorable results will follow. We’ve started the season terribly. There is no better way to heal and improve than by winning consistently. Starting against Bournemouth. COYG!!

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