Alexis Sanchez vs Sergio Aguero: Who’s Better?


There is little doubt that Arsenal’s best player this season belongs on the short list for Professional Footballer of the Year. As the legend of Alexis Sanchez continues to grow in Holloway, the Chilean has elevated his play to match and now finds himself in heady company.

While his time at Barcelona was marked by a phenomenal return – his brief career at The Emirates has cemented his status as one of the most explosive attacking players in world football.

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Now 26, Alexis spent the past three seasons plying his trade in Catalonia following a move from Udinese. In those three seasons, he hit 40 goals with 27 assists and barely registered as a standout performer in one of the all-time greatest sides to dominate both Spanish and European competition. He began his career in Spain with 12 goals in his first 25 appearances (20 starts) and concluded it with 19 goals in his final 34 appearances (27 starts), contributing to a further 10 goals directly via assist in his last year.

Last season, in Alexis’ final season in Spain, Barcelona scored 100 goals, with 97 coming from within the squad and just three coming from the opposition. That is a rather clean 29% of all goals which Alexis contributed directly.

In this season at Arsenal, his 12 goals and seven assists (19 goals contributed) comprise 52% (19/37) of the Gunners’ tallies. His sum total goals and assists (19) is levelbest of any player in the Premier League this season (Diego Costa: 19 total, 17 goals) – besting Sergio Aguero (17, 14 goals).

With the latter’s tally accounting for a “mere” 34% of Cheslea’s goals this term (19/56), it is Kun Aguero to whom Alexis is most frequently compared.

The comparison, as it were, is obviously not apples to apples – they are not in the same position – but rather an assessment of each players overall value to their squad.

While the Chile international has contributed to more goals this season, the Argentine striker is the more deadly finisher. Using the statistics available at fantasy premier league draft site Togga, we can get a more clear picture of each players total offensive contribution.

Obviously, Alexis Sanchez has been one of the most heavily utilized players in Arsene Wenger’s squad this term while Kun Aguero has missed significant time through injury. However, even when normalized to 90′, the contributions from the Arsenal midfielder appear to give him the edge.

Only in goals and Shots on Target does Aguero out-perform Alexis Sanchez. In chances created, successful crosses and successful dribbles (Take-Ons) it is Arsene Wenger’s midfield dynamo who reigns.

There is some truth to any assertion from the blue half of Manchester that Kun would never be in position to cross – and if he did to whom would he? – but that argument fails to undercut the raw value Alexis is able to produce through his positional versatility.

Now, the knee-jerk reaction on both sides of the aisle is to jump up and shout down the other side. Perhaps this is a discussion best left on the pitch, but the underlying numbers do tell us something as well. There is likely no question, if you needed a player to slot as your No. 9, you would take Aguero in your side without hesitation.

Equally as likely, if you needed an attacking midfielder – and one who can slot into the wing or false 9, no less – you would take Alexis. Neither one is significantly ahead of their peers within their given position. Aguero has been splendid but Diego Costa and Charlie Austin are both in contention for the Golden Boot. Similarly, Alexis’ rich vein of form sees him likely lined-up next to Cesc Fabregas, Nacir Chadli and Eden Hazard in the midfield for the Team of the Year.

The key difference which separates Alexis from any other player in the Premier League this term is his incredible ability to both score goals and create chances. He sits second in the League behind only Cesc Fabregas (79) in chances created and the Arsenal midfielder’s 67 chances created could easily have led to more than seven assists if only he wasn’t also the Gunners’ most lethal striker.

In fact, the combination of chances created, assists and goal is unequaled by any other footballer in the Premier League this season. To find Alexis’ peer, you need to look back in history, all the way to the 2013/2014 season when a then 26-year-old Luis Suarez was named the best player in the League.

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The Uruguayan talisman scored 31 goals and contributed to a further 12 via assist in 2965′ across 33 matches in the Premier League last season. Suarez was the force which drove a Liverpool side that fell just short of their first Premier League title and secured a massive fee to move to Barcelona in the summer.

It is certainly difficult to see Alexis ever equaling Suarez’s scoring record – in fairness to the Arsenal man, he plays a different role – and, in fact, there may be no one who equals Suarez this season. The current leading scorer is Diego Costa and even he is only on pace for 30 goals.

And that is what places Alexis Sanchez ahead of Sergio Aguero, at least as it pertains to this season. But that should not take anything away from Alexis’ achievement this term. Even if he were not to contribute to another goal this season his 12 goals would still equal Robin van Persie’s haul from last season and his seven assists would be level with 2013/2014 hauls from Jordan Henderson, Eden Hazard and Samir Nasri, to name a few.

On Sunday, Arsenal took the three points and earned the plaudits despite seeing only 35.2% of the ball. It is said ‘it’s not how much possession you have, it’s what you do with it.’ That was certainly true of the Gunners’ victory at the Etihad. And it is that maxim which underlines Alexis Sanchez’s claim to the mantle of best player in the Premier League this season.

All statistics produced under license from Opta – courtesy of Togga: Fantasy Premier League, except minutes played which are maintained by and historical data which is via Match report information from FourFourTwo StatsZone.

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