Analysing Alexis Sanchez's world class performance against West Ham
Arsenal ran out convincing 5-1 winners over their London rivals after a superb display of attacking football. The three points meant that the Gunners climbed into second position, at least temporarily and provided their title challenge with a huge boost. They have been going under the radar somewhat and that has benefited them. November has historically been a poor month for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, but this year they have taken eight points from four league matches, providing them with confidence ahead of the festive period.
Their star man on Saturday was without doubt Alexis Sanchez, as it has been for the majority of the matches this season. He was unplayable at times and made a mockery of the West Ham defence. At the moment, he is the best player in the league and is the main reason that Arsenal are emerging as genuine title contenders. At the end of the match on Saturday, he was the centre of attention with West Ham ball-boys surrounding him for a selfie. He possesses a star quality that few others in the league have and even opposition fans are desperate to get a piece of the Chilean.
At the start of the season, Wenger decided to move Sanchez to a central position and that is now looking to be a masterstroke. The majority of the footballing world expected Arsenal to buy a world class striker and thought they needed one to challenge for major honours. It looks like that striker was already at the club and he is now being given the opportunity to play that role. He needed time to adjust to the change, but he is now scoring with regularity and could be the final piece of the jigsaw in terms of an Arsenal title challenge.
On Saturday, he scored a hat-trick and showed that he can reach a level of performance that is impossible to deal with for the majority of teams in the league. West Ham were by no means good defensively, but it was the individual quality of Sanchez that led to his three goals, rather than poor defending from the opposition. His first was an excellent driving run that showed his incredible acceleration as he glided past two West Ham defenders, before drilling a shot past Darren Randolph from a tight angle. The goal came out of nowhere and displayed the flair that is central to Sanchez’s game.
His second goal was another good finish, but the third was perhaps the pick of the bunch. As he was running towards goal, he produced a fake shot that took both the defender and goalkeeper out of the game, which allowed him to dink the ball over Randolph to complete his hat-trick. The ability to pull out an incredible piece of skill under pressure was impressive and showed the confidence that is currently radiating through the Chilean. Throughout the game he was exceptional and always looked a class above the other 21 men on the pitch. His awareness to win the ball back high up the pitch was crucial in the opening goal, while he also showed that he can be unselfish as he squared the ball to Mesut Ozil for a simple finish.
It has been a great start to the season for Sanchez and his performances are the main reason for Arsenal’s current position in the table. He has the ability to win matches on his own and he was the difference once again on Saturday. Although he has been one of the stars of the league since moving to Arsenal, he is stepping up his game to a new level this season and that has transformed his side into title contenders. There are still issues for Arsene Wenger to sort out, but as long as Sanchez is in this kind of form, Arsenal will be contenders.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Stuart MacFarlane
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