Alexis Sanchez: Arsenal’s Valiant Knight in a Shiny Armor
Sometimes you just need that extra piece of the jigsaw puzzle, that get-out-of-jail-free card, that top top quality that can give you the edge when the chips are down, that footballer that can drag himself teammates to do better. In a team like Arsenal, such a demand is no different. Down the years, such players marauded Highbury and a couple more became heroes at the Emirates. The trend isn’t going to stop, not today, not ever.
Take a player like Robin van Persie for instance – yes, the fans hate and despise him for the way he departed to join Arsenal’s rivals but in his final two seasons at the club, RvP was in a world of his own. Yes, he scored goals with consummate ease but it was the manner, accuracy and timing of the goals that endeared him to the hearts of Gooners all over the world. With RvP on the pitch, there was that extra measure of confidence that he was going to do something, anything. C’mon, the fans even sang that ‘he scores when he wants’.
With the Flying Dutchman departing at the start of the 2012/13 season, Arsenal were hoping for that player that would be the all-in-all but Arsene Wenger chose a different approach – changing the mentality of the players from being ones that rely on a certain individual (RvP) to get all the goals but making it a team effort.
Then things turned out for good. True, there were no trophies to celebrate at the 2012/13 season – The Gunners shameful crashed out from the domestic cup competitions with losses to Blackburn and Bradford while a spirited effort against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena wasn’t enough to repair the damage that had been done at the Emirates. The Premier League campaign was more or less a struggle, with the Gunners battling with their fierce rivals, Tottenham, for a place in Europe. However, the major highlight of the campaign was the collective amount of goals the players contributed with. In the previous campaign, Robin van Persie scored 37 goals while Theo Walcott was next in line with 11. In the 2012/13 season, Walcott had 21, Olivier Giroud had 17, Lukas Podolski had 16 and the Player of the Season, Santi Cazorla, even had 12.
Last season saw the emergence of Aaron Ramsey and his 16 goals (including the match winner at the FA Cup final) saw him rise to an indispensable status at the club. Giroud did really good to build on his first campaign by scoring 22 goals, but he was on the end of some bashing from the fans, as they claimed that he didn’t score against the “so-called” big teams.
This season, Arsenal surprised everyone by signing Alexis Sanchez from FC Barcelona, a player that had come on the end of a career-best 21 goals in La Liga and he followed it up with a good performance for Chile in the World Cup. His first goal for the club turned out to be his most important, as he scored the goal that gave the Gunners their Champions League qualifying berth. He followed it up with the match opener against Leicester City before scoring his third goal in the pulsating 2-2 draw with Manchester City. He showed everyone that he’s also an adept set piece taker against Southampton and in October, he got on the score sheet against Galatasaray and Hull.
Yesterday, Arsenal played a Sunderland side that clearly bereft of confidence following the 8-0 pulverizing they received at St. Mary’s. With relatively no pressure, Wes Brown attempted to make a bad pass that turned out to be a neat assist for Alexis. The Chilean turned on the afterburners and within moments he was one on one with Vito Mannone. Don Vito made things easy for him by hitting the deck quickly and Alexis thanked him for his erratic decision making by dinking the ball over the Italian to make it 1-0 to the Arsenal. Sanchez’ second goal was more comical than the first with the Chilean poking the ball home after another horror show from Mannone.
In 15 games for the Gunners, Alexis has smashed in eight goals with five of them coming in the Premier League. Besides the goals, I’ve not seen any player in the team that works as hard as Alexis – maybe Danny Welbeck and Ramsey. He never gives up and his determination is exemplary. This lad will run to the end of the world and back to ensure that the ball he misses doesn’t get off the line and he’d also work his ass off to track back to help his fullback behind him. When you add to the fact that he’s so versatile, you tend to wonder how the Hell Arsenal did enough to acquire a player of his sheer overall quality, which has started rubbing off on his teammates.
If you think you’ve heard enough about Alexis, when you think of the fact that he requested to train with the team instead of taking a post-match recovery session ahead of the North London Derby, then you’d know that he’s one hell of a character.
I’m proud to know that Alexis has truly justified his huge transfer fee and he’s Arsenal’s valiant knight in a shiny armor.
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