Alexis Sanchez: How One Injury Altered Arsenal’s Season

With Theo Walcott struggling to find the final touch, Arsene Wenger, in a desperate attempt to further in the Emirates FA Cup – or perhaps, avoid a replay – brought Alexis Sanchez on to replace Danny Welbeck on 67 minutes. Despite much anticipation, he only added to his dismal campaign as he blazed an effort into the stands to thwart his manager, who had seen his personnel bottle similar chances prior to his abysmal effort.

The Chile international took no time to adapt to the English game as he notched 25 goals and collected 12 assists in his debut season following his arrival in summer 2014. However, national team duties throughout June 2015 meant he could not enjoy much-needed break heading into the current campaign.

Though fans touted him to shrug off the fatigue, having witnessed his unquestionable industry only the previous season, he proved his humanness as he failed to replicate his debut season’s laurels.


An abysmal season and untimely hamstring injury

Despite a short-lived revival – bagging six goals between matchday 7 and 9 – the former Barcelona winger has struggled to hit form. Given his talent and commitment, he could rediscover his form at will, but an untimely hamstring injury blighted his potential resurgence. Having spent 4 hours and 55 minutes in the Premier League without a goal or an assist, he now faces an uphill task of emulating an earlier version of himself.

Joel Campbell capitalized on his absence to elevate his status at the club, but the longer he stayed on the pitch, the more it became obvious that he could only be a squad player for Arsenal at his best.

In addition, his absence meant that the Gunners gaffer experimented Theo Walcott on the left wing to recreate the harmony that had existed when treatment table featured only Jack Wilshere; however, his experiments failed miserably as Arsenal dropped to the third spot.


Subpar performances and highlighted weaknesses

Since his return – against Chelsea – on January 24, the 27-year-old eager beaver has completed only as little as 28% of his dribbles and against Leicester, he managed to complete a meagre three of the attempted 25 dribbles. In addition, he has been dispossessed 15 times in four appearances (3+1). With counter-attacking football being espoused by most clubs – Leicester, Southampton and Tottenham – his shortcoming could cost Arsenal heavily.

As Olivier Giroud takes the responsibility of holding up, his role is to take on defenders on the left-hand side and test the keeper. Though fans advise him to pass a tad more, he does not need to heed them as long as his efforts, at least, hit the target, but his shot accuracy has been only a little more than 30% in the last four league games.

As things stand, his performances leave a lot to be desired.


Magic and hope

Despite his continued struggles in front of the goal, he still creates moments of magic, combining with Mesut Ozil – who has hit a rough patch of form, statistically – every now and then to offer glimpses of the Alexis Sanchez the Arsenal faithful intended to see this season.

For a player of his prowess, it would not be long before he sets Emirates Stadium alight, but Leicester or Tottenham should not have gone out of sight by then.


Written by Praveen Paramasivam

Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen

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