Six goals; three assists: Why Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez is an early contender for player of the season
Arsenal have the look of title contenders this season, but they will wary of raising expectations as has been the case in previous years. Their best player has been Alexis Sanchez who has been superb during the first eleven matches, scoring six times and contributing a further three assists. The Chilean has been one of the most consistent players in the league since moving to England and he will want to win a major honour in the near future. It will be difficult for the Gunners to win the Premier League and they will need Sanchez to be on top form if they are to succeed.
How has he started the season?
The Chilean has started the season in great form and has been the standout player for Arsenal in his new role as a lone striker. He has already had a hand in nine goals with his goal involvement per minute standing at 100.9. That is great and highlights the threat that Sanchez is currently posing in the final third. Last season, he played well, but there was a feeling that he was being held back by various injuries. That isn’t the case this season as he looks sharp and is fully motivated to have his best year in an Arsenal shirt to date.
In terms of his total impact in matches, Sanchez is averaging 2.18 chances created and 2.91 shots per game. This shows how influential he is to Arsenal in the final third. He is often their main attacking threat and will be missed over the coming weeks after picking up an injury on international duty. His pass completion is rather low at 76%, especially for an Arsenal player. However, he is being used in an advanced role and is still adjusting to it. I’d expect this to improve over the course of the season.
What is his role in the team?
Arsene Wenger has changed the position that Sanchez plays, as the Frenchman has asked him to play as a lone striker. This was due to the fitness of Olivier Giroud and inexperience of Lucas Perez. The Arsenal boss decided that Sanchez was his best option and the Chilean has excelled in the role. He is much more involved in matches, as he is always in central areas, which allows him to get more involved in the attacking play. Although he isn’t as good as Giroud at holding up the ball, he is strong enough to challenge with defenders, while his movement makes him difficult to contain as he looks to roam across the front line. He may be moved back to the wing as the season progresses, but he has shown Wenger that he can do very well when used as a striker.
Can he maintain his form?
As stated above, Sanchez will be missing for the next few weeks after picking up an injury in Chile training, which will annoy Arsenal fans. It was feared to be a really bad one, but the early indications are that it will only be the matter of weeks. That is good news for Arsenal as Sanchez is one of the few players capable of carrying them to a title challenge. He will have to bounce back quickly as Arsenal can’t afford to lose touch with the leading pack.
Sanchez will always be a danger in the Premier League, regardless of whether he is in top form or not. He possesses quality that few others in the league do and could challenge for individual awards at the end of the season, as long as he avoids major injuries. A lot depends on where he is utilised by Arsene Wenger. If he continues to play as a lone striker, I’d expect him to score over 20 goals and fire Arsenal to a top four finish. Meanwhile, if he is moved back to the left wing, it could take some time to re-adapt, damaging his form in the process.
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