After weeks of speculation about where he would end up, Alexis Sanchez was announced as an Arsenal player. Sanchez is the Gunners’ second major statement of intent in the last 11 months with the signing of Mesut Ozil last summer being the other. The signing of Sanchez has proved a coup for manager Arsene Wenger, stealing Sanchez out from under the nose of fellow English team Liverpool. After years of being tight with the cash, Arsenal have not only made a huge signing but also have done it early in the transfer window. Arsenal fans will hope this is the first of many, but even Alexis on his own is a huge signing.
Sanzhez has shown what a good player he is not only in his time at Barcelona, but also at this World Cup with Chile. He has shown his abilities on the ball and will likely find it easy to fit a the Emirates since so many of their players have similar abilities. Alexis though can bring some things to the table that Arsene Wenger did not already have in his squad.
In the second half of last season, the Arsenal attack had a serious lack of pace at times with both Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missing time through injury. Alexis Sanchez provides another pacy outlet for the team wherever he plays and is an upgrade on both the Ox and Walcott. Sanchez is a fantastic dribbler and is a more direct threat than say Santi Cazorla – the man who occupied the left flank for the majority of 2013/2014 at Arsenal. Sanchez attempted a dribble every 11.1 minutes at the World Cup showing he is not afraid to take players on. Sanchez has also shown that he can be clinical in front of goal. Last season at Barcelona, Sanchez converted a stunning 31% of his chances scoring 19 goals, all from the wing. If he can resemble those kind of numbers with the increased playing time he will get with Arsenal, he could make the Gunners a real contender.
One point of question over the Sanchez signing is, what will his main position be? Sanchez can play all across the front three as a left winger, striker, or right winger. Sanchez played primarily on the right wing at Barcelona, but plays up front as a striker for the Chilean national team. In a TV interview with Eurosport, Wenger explained why he signed the Barcelona man saying “I just find he has all the attributes of a modern striker.” Wenger has a bit of a history when it comes to turning wingers into strikers (See Henry and Van Persie) and has addressed Arsenal’s current need for a striker many times. This may lead you to believe Wenger intends to play Sanchez mainly as a striker. While Sanchez will not play in Arsenal’s pre-season friendlies against the New York Red Bulls or Boreham Wood, the Chilean is set to make his debut in the Emirates Cup and that will be the best barometer for where he will play this season. Personally, I believe he will play all across the front three this season, but his main position will depend on what other signings are made this summer.
The versatility of the Chile star gives Arsene Wenger some different way of setting up his team this season depending on the opponent. He now has a striker that he could feasibly pair up top with Olivier Giroud if he ever wanted to go with two strikers. Last season, Arsenal lacked a striker with the ability to run in behind the defence and stretch defences. Sanchez gives them that option and he can give Olivier Giroud some rest, something the Frenchman rarely got last season.
Whether he plays on the left, on the right, or through the middle, Sanchez is a superb signing for Arsenal. The Chilean is a world class talent and can be a game changer at the Emirates. His signing is yet another sign that Arsenal are looking to seriously compete for all honours once again and that their thrifty days are behind them.