Has Alexis Sanchez Fallen Out of Form or is Arsenal Just Getting Better Around Him?


It wasn’t long ago that Alexis Sanchez was being called a “one-man squad” at Arsenal. He was scoring every match and it really was a situation of him not doing anything wrong. He was the best signing of the summer and it was absolutely remarkable how quickly he had settled into one of the hardest leagues for outsiders to settle into.

However, in recent matches, the Chilean mastermind hasn’t exactly been scoring at the same rapid pace that he had been in the earlier parts of the year. Since his perfect performance against Stoke City, Alexis has scored zero goals and only assisted on one.

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The easiest answer is that he’s in a rut. Everyone goes through ruts. I did notice that in Arsenal’s most recent match against Everton, he seemed to slow play down, which is unlike him. If you recall, back in November Arsene Wenger actually benched him because of how much he held up Arsenal’s play style.

It was just a case of Alexis trying to do too much, and he may be falling into a similar situation here. Back then, he really did try to carry the back on his team, and he was successful at it. But now that the team doesn’t need to be carried by him, those tactics of trying to carry the team aren’t going to be nearly as effective.

But maybe that isn’t the case. According to WhoScored.com, Alexis’s game ratings are still right at his season average over his scoreless drought. So while he may not be netting, his team mates are, and given his position, he is always involved.

Several Chilean newspapers are on the panic-wagon as their poster child’s drought continues.

El Mercurio said (per IBT):

"Alexis played the full 90 minutes without too much shine. He started on the left side, then went to the right and to the centre of the attack before finishing as the number 10. He was incisive but, as it happened since the start of 2015, coinciding with a knee injury and the return to action of Ozil, who is overshadowing him, he failed to make the difference as he used to do during the first part of the campaign."

La Tercera blamed his ‘fading’ on another Gunner, this time on Olivier Giroud, saying (as quoted again by IBT):

"Olivier Giroud, missing during much of 2014 [due to injury], has overshadowed Sanchez a little bit inside the area. Now he is doing a role as an assistant while the French hitman tried to go straight to the net."

Statistically, the two Chilean sources have a point. Mesut Ozil, since the Stoke City match, has scored three goals and assisted four. Based on WhoScored.com’s player ratings, he’s exceeded his season’s average performance in all but one match. He’s also playing the full 90 minutes now, something he never did in the past.

Olivier Giroud has been exceeding expectations as well, excluding the Monaco debacle. Six goals and three assists since Alexis’s scoring drought began is enough to steal some of the spotlight from the prolific Chilean.

Alexis Sanchez may be feeling a tad inadequate, although unnecessarily.

HITC Sport quotes an interview that Alexis had with Fox Sports where he discussed a problem he’s having with training: “I want to train even more, though Wenger won’t let me. I will listen to him as he knows best.” 

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Wanting to train more is definitely just part of Alexis’s character. He’s an insanely hard worker and it shows on the pitch. But maybe his wanting to train more does have something to do with his frustration at not being able to score.

The Telelgraph makes another good point, that maybe he’s being played out of his preferred position, something Arsenal seems to have massive problems with. Based on WhoScored.com’s positional statistics, Alexis has a 8.91 average rating when playing as a central attacking midfielder, his highest of any other position. But since Ozil returned to claim that role, Alexis has been forced out wide, where his rating drops by over a full point.

No matter what, the main thing is for Alexis Sanchez to realize that he doesn’t need to carry this team. He is a part of a unit – not the point of a spearhead, but an intricate part of a flowing wave.

Alexis is a phenomenal player, Edu, an Arsenal legend, even claims that he’s one of the top five players in the world (per Yahoo Sports). He’s just having a bit of a crisis that can be sorted out with time. I don’t think a rest is necessary, because he had a rest when he was hurt. He just needs to understand his role a little better.

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