Does Tottenham Loss Prove Arsenal Need Alexis Sanchez to Win?


You know what they say, hindsight is 20/20. Alexis Sanchez was deemed unable to play by Arsene Wenger as the team was gloriously downed in the North London Derby by everyone’s favorite rival, Tottenham.

The team fell 2-1 after taking an early 1-0 lead on their only shot of the half and the story of the day was a mix between lack of offensive potency and lack of attacking power. If they sound like the same thing, it’s because they are.

Arsenal’s defense played fine. They really did. Laurent Kocielny was a bit off and Hector Bellering got caught out of position, but again, his speed prevents that from being too much of a problem. Arsene Wenger’s tactics of counter attack seemed completely overdone. It was as if the only strategy was to sit back, absorb a potent attack and strike back.

There are two problems with that strategy.

  1. The attack we tried to absorb was far more powerful than we thought. Aston Villa was one thing, Tottenham was another. What baffles me is that similar counter attack tactics worked against Manchester City. Then it occurred to me, against Manchester City, we had Alexis Sanchez.
  2. We didn’t have enough attacking power without (see above) Alexis Sanchez. Or Theo Walcott for that matter. We didn’t have that winger blazing down the sides. Danny Welbeck did a pretty good job assuming the role, but his extended absence clearly weighed on his chemistry with the team. He did do a fantastic job building the first goal from the ground up and he put a fantastic shot on goal, but it wasn’t the same electricity we see out of Alexis Sanchez or Theo Walcott.

So the question is unfortunately raised again. Do Arsenal need Alexis Sanchez to win?

With 18 different goal scorers this year, Arsenal lead the league in net-notching diversity. However, Alexis Sanchez still accounts for upwards of 30% of the Gunner’s goals. If you’re a strict mathematician, you may say that without Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal are 30% less likely to score. And you’d be partially correct (excluding the Aston Villa circus).

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But I don’t think one bad loss automatically means that Arsenal can’t win without the Chilean mastermind, although plenty of “news” sources will probably take this as a sign that Alexis wants to leave Arsenal.

What bothers me about Alexis’s absence is that I think he could have been brought on as a super-sub.

Wenger spoke about the injury prior to the match, saying “he wants to play, of course, he is very keen. He feels he can defy the medical people because he is so keen to play that he thinks he can get over strains” (the Independent).

“I don’t know yet, I need medical advice on that, and I need to see what he can do in training as well.” He went on to add.

The indecisiveness on Wenger’s part, which is literally never seen, makes me think that he at least somewhat believed that Alexis could have overcome the injury, at least for ten minutes or so, and that could have made all the difference.

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Alexis is the engine of the Arsenal attack. He’s the driving force that propels the attack. I think that Theo Walcott can also be a similar type of engine. But with a counter attack strategy, Arsenal need speedsters to drive the attack. Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil are wonderful players but they lack the pace to lead a counter.

Danny Welbeck could end up fitting the roll but his extended absence proved to have shaken the chemistry he had with his team mates. As such, Arsenal’s counterattack fell flat and was proven to be improperly manned.

Lucky for Arsenal, Leicester City is coming up Tuesday and it should be an excellent chance for a bounce back.

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