Alexis Sanchez’s story at Arsenal seems to be coming to a slow grinding end. His performances this season have not even been close to up to par, but he has somehow slipped under the radar of criticism while everyone else has had to stomach their fair share. The question now becomes whether Sanchez is becoming dispensable in the team and whether other players in the squad are to be given a chance.
The Gunners just played out a classic match against Manchester United where they were on the wrong end of a 3-1 score. If you were to explore the list of attacking players that didn’t play well, the list would exist of only one name, Alexis Sanchez. Mesut Ozil put on a master class of a performance, moving smoothly between the lines and linking up well with Lacazette and Ramsey. Speaking of those two, Lacazette played brilliantly, constantly being a menace to the United defence and if not for an astonishing performance by David De Gea, could have easily had a hat-trick. Ramsey has taken his fair share of criticism but again, he played well during the game with his highlight being the delicious touch to Lacazette to assist the goal.
You move down the list and come to Sanchez and ask yourself, was he in the game? He was more noticeable for giving away the ball than helping his team be successful. Now to be fair, he played the ball over the top to Ramsey for him to flick to Lacazette but other than that, nothing. Such sentiment has been a consistent theme this season with everyone else around him performing to a high standard with him just coasting along.
This narrative seems to be wearing on the Gunners faithful as well. His demonstrative actions on the pitch accompanied with his excessive whining and complaining are wearing thin on the nerves of Arsenal. Such actions were tolerated last season as Sanchez was carrying the team on his back and his level of production was at an astronomical level. Whereas this season, with only four goals in the league, such behaviour isn’t warranted let alone accepted.
Looking at the options on the bench, there are viable arguments for the top contenders that could potentially replace Sanchez. Alex Iwobi, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck would be the prime candidates to get the nod from Wenger if a change was to occur. When called upon, Iwobi has performed well this season, his direct approach and close control are assets that not many in the squad have. The golden boy Jack Wilshere has been chomping at the bit for a start but with the form of Ramsey, it’s hard to see him getting a look in. Jack’s passing ability and knack for controlling the game could be a viable asset to the team. Finally, Welbeck started the season in excellent form bagging four goals in the first 4 games of the season. But all too often, the Englishman can’t be counted on to stay fit for a lengthy period of time and give a level of production to the team to emulate Sanchez.
To conclude, Sanchez’s level of performance hasn’t even been close to acceptable this season. However, of the alternatives mentioned, he is still the one most likely to produce a moment of magic to dig the Gunners out of a hole if they get into one. Additionally, with Wenger having an affinity for the Chilean, it’s unlikely that he’ll find himself sitting on the bench.