Alexis Sanchez

Player Analysis
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Player Background

Since joining Arsenal from Barcelona in 2014, Alexis Sanchez quickly established himself as the talisman of Wenger’s side. He’s been directly involved in over 100 goals in all competitions since moving to London, as well as 28 in the Premier League this season alone; meaning he’s responsible for around 45% of Arsenal’s goal tally this campaign.

The tenacious Chilean’s performances have branded his £35m transfer fee as a coup, consequently linking him with moves to the likes of Juventus, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and other European heavyweights. On numerous occasions, especially this season, Alexis has dragged his teammates over the line during below par performances. He’s now reached a stage similar to that of Luis Suarez at Liverpool in 2013, at which he is clearly on a different level in comparison to his teammates, and is outperforming them on a regular basis.

His level of performance this season has resulted in him being one of the six nominees for the PFA Player of the Year. Alexis has showcased his quality consistently in an Arsenal shirt, by regularly expressing his distinct footballing characteristics that epitomise him as the world-class player he is. I’ve acknowledged four of Alexis’ player traits that I consider vital determinants behind him being such a special footballer.

Flair – Ability to do the Unexpected

This season, Alexis’ capability to do the unexpected has impressed me above all else. Having played for Arsenal for a few seasons now, Alexis has the confidence and authority within his team to stamp his mark on football matches, and he often does so to devastating effect. In tight situations, Alexis has the mind, vision and technique to find solutions; whether that may be a pass, through-ball, goal or a bit of magic.

Many players are limited in certain situations on the football field, with the easy option often being taken with a simple pass to their nearest teammate; Alexis does the opposite. As demonstrated below, Alexis is a super-creative player who’s been given the freedom to create chances; he’s constantly looking to pass forwards and impact the game in the final-third, and he has the ability to do so.

Work-Rate – Desire to Graft for his Teammates

The second aspect I’ve chosen to focus on is Alexis’ work-rate and desire to fight for his team. This is a trait that can commonly be overlooked, especially in attackers, as it’s often considered to be a facet that isn’t associated with players that contribute a creative input. For example, the current top five players in the Premier League in terms of key passes are De Bruyne, Tadic, Sanchez, Eriksen, Pogba; other than Sanchez, these aren’t players that you’d particularly consider to be hard workers without the ball.

Sanchez is special in the sense that he’s an attacker that embodies every hard-working mannerism that you’d want from a defender. As shown in the video below, Sanchez’ first thought when losing the ball is to win it back immediately, and he persistently challenges opposing players until he’s achieves that.

Versatility – Proficiency in Multiple Positions

Largely showcased this season has been Alexis’ positional versatility, as he’s able to perform proficiently and influence the game from a number of attacking positions. Sanchez played the early stages of the season as Arsenal’s lone central striker, by spearheading attacks and pressurising opposition centre backs. When playing this role, Alexis provided Arsenal with an increased level of fluidity and pace in comparison to the option of Giroud, as well as scoring on numerous occasions.

Predominately though, Alexis’ position this season has been wide left in a position that allows him to cut inside on his stronger right-foot and consequently shoot or influence the game in a more central area. This role can effectively be labelled as an inside-forward, and is similar to what he played as during his time at Barcelona. Alexis thrives in this position as it allows him to exploit more space than would be available centrally, as well as often being able to engage with opposing full-backs in 1v1 situations.

Thirdly, Alexis is capable of performing in the AMC position between the opposition’s midfield and defence; as a 10. Alexis has played the most through-balls in the league this season by some distance with 127; his nearest competitor currently has 70. This means Alexis is averaging around 4.15 through-balls per 90 mins, which is ideal for a player playing as a 10, as their primary responsibility is to create goal-scoring chances and link the midfield to the attack. Although he doesn’t regularly play this role, he’s more than capable of executing it to a high level.

End-Product – Goals & Assists

Obviously though, the main input that attacking players should primarily be judged on is their scoring contribution in terms of goals and assists. Alexis is currently the league’s 3rd top goal-scorer with 19, despite playing a large majority of the season in a wide position. He’s had the 5th most shots with 99, and is joint 4th in terms of assists, with 8. These numbers demonstrate that Alexis is one of the most productive attackers in the league, with his numbers clearly being able to back-up the quality of his performances.

Sanchez is also impressive regarding the variety of goals he delivers, as he’s adept scoring tap-ins, headers, from long distance and from set-pieces including free-kicks and penalties. The sheer variation in his goals is demonstrated below, in a short compilation highlighting the diverse finishing that Arsenal’s talisman offers.

Summary

Overall, Sanchez is vital to any team he plays in, and the quality of his performances as well as his infectious personality can only empower his teammates. He’s able to merge exquisite technical ability with good old-fashioned determination and work-rate, which makes him one of the current best players in the Premier League, and in my opinion, Arsenal’s best player. It remains to be seen whether Sanchez will continue to represent Arsenal next season, but if not, they’ll be a much weaker team without him.

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