Tag Archives: chile

A Spoonful of Winning Helps the Medicine Go Down.

Posted originally on Arsenal Mania

Screwed up faces. Clenched fists. Shirts ripped off in pure ecstacy and frustration. The many visages of Phil Jones.

There are many manifestations of footballer’s mentality on show. It happens in every game that rolls out in front of hordes of cameras, and millions can pore over each and every second, which means that the minutiae of players movements can be open to every single interpretation conceivable.

With such huge rewards on offer, and the spotlight only growing larger, it means that winning will become more fundamental that ever before. Efforts to obtain success and a lasting legacy will also grow with it.

Cause and effect. Motivation should not be an issue, but players ignite the fire in their bellies in different ways. Some have trophies on a pedestal, but some simply have an allergic reaction to losing. It is not in their nature to take a loss in any other way than with disgust and a grimace.

Like the medicine you were forced to take as a youngster, some things are difficult to swallow without a tangible showing of abhorrence. 

Alexis Sanchez is one of these players. 

There has been a shift in the apparent mood of the Chilean this season, and it has coincided with his team suffering a run of form which has rendered any hope of League success moot. As the results have turned sour, so has Alexis and his actions on the pitch.

His angry gesticulations, his frustrations at poor passes and the regular breaking down of attacks. He has been unable to quell the feelings of dismay he has, and it has burned to the fore. 

The fact that there are no other players in the team who exhibit the same symptoms of sore losing only serves to exacerbate what some interpret as an unhappy player.

They would be correct of course. Sanchez is certainly not on cloud nine at the moment. It isn’t because he wants to leave the club though. It is only because he cannot abide losing.

In a recent match for Chile versus Argentina, Alexis displayed the same signs of exasperation that have been on show when wearing an Arsenal jersey. This time though, it was the red shirt of Chile he was chomping down on rather than in Arsenal colours. It was a prime example of his indignance at how the game was being played out. 

You won’t like him when he’s losing….
His hunger for the ball and drive when in possession are admirable traits, but in their purest forms they are just another symptom of his fierce desire to win. Just like when he stretches out his shorts and screams to the heavens when another chance goes begging. 

Have we all become so sensitive that we must hold these examples up and declare them examples of a player who is either spoiled and wants things his own way, or as a man who is actively looking to jump a sinking ship?

If another player were to act in the manner that Alexis does, would this also be used as an example of an unhappy player looking at greener grass?

In teams of the past, we have had men who shared the same ferocious mentality. When things were not going well, their go-to reactions were anger and vexation. Vieira, Keown, even Thierry Henry – they all looked like miserable gits on the pitch. Were they chastised or pilloried for their long faces and wild showings of emotion?

Alexis and his desire should be rubbing off on his teammates, rather than segregating them. We could do with a few more who would run themselves into the ground in order to stave of disappointment. 

Sanchez Can Be Our Striker – and our Aguero

People don’t like change.

However much we moan about the same old routine, if something unexpected crops up and forces us to change direction – no matter how slightly – it perturbs us. It puts us on edge. 

Routine may be boring, but it is safe.

Perhaps this was the thinking when the furore erupted over Alexis Sanchez playing as a lone striker.

He can’t play as a striker! 

He’s too small to play as a lone man up top!

He’s not clinical enough!

He’s far more effective on the left and cutting in!

These are just a select few choice cuts that I’ve seen through the many guises of social media. There are others, but what it boils down to is that many believe – or did believe up until recently – that Alexis Sanchez is NOT a striker.

There are certain players though, that have enough attacking talent to be able to lay a claim to any position across the attack. 

Have we not witnessed enough from our Chilean wonder that we should have learned not to doubt him? On so many occasions, the muscle-laden South American has dragged us out of trouble with his goals. Repeatedly, he has been the man to make the difference when we have struggled.

During his tenure at Barcelona, Alexis bagged 39 goals in 88 games, with 27 assists in La Liga alone. 

Having played 100 games exactly for our club, he has grabbed 47 goals thus far. A slight improvement in goal ratio, but being bereft of Lionel Messi will do that to your numbers I guess….

This season, he has been played primarily as a centre forward, and in the seven games he has taken part in, he has 5 goals, and 3 assists (correct at the time of writing).

Of course, this could be a mere purple patch, a rise in numbers on the great dipping rollercoaster of a career. On further inspection, under the fierce light of scrutiny however, the move to the centre may be responsible for his frankly amazing stats this campaign. 

His low centre of gravity, one of the main reasons his bursts into the box go unchecked, has allowed him to hold the ball up well. His strength has been vital in duelling for position with defenders. He has been a nightmare for the opposition. His ample assists highlight that his link up play and awareness are where they need to be to play as a striker.

Whatever tack we choose to take, Alexis has all the tools necessary to adapt. If we play on the break, we are all aware of his blistering pace, the same pace that can see him latch onto through balls when hanging on the last defender. If we play possession football, then he has the touch and toughness to take part in link-up play. 

Sanchez has also scored both types of goal. His run and finish against Chelsea showed his speed, and any lingering doubts anyone had about his finishing were finally dispelled as he showed incredible composure to dink a wonderful finish over Thibault Courtois.

Sergio Aguero, probably the best striker in the Premier League, and one of the best in the world, is of similar height and build. Yet he has scored enough goals to fire his team to two titles. 

Is there any disparity between the two South Americans in regards to talent? No. Both can single-handedly destroy the opposition. There are certain strengths that are stronger for one over the other – Aguero’s finishing is on a par with anyone in the world – but Sanchez isn’t far behind. 

So, why can’t Sanchez play as a striker? With our cosmopolitan brand of football, and the talent in our team, we should have no worries in playing him there. 

In fact, he could feel a tad miffed that he isn’t first choice striker. There will be games where Giroud will be of more use than others, and Lucas Perez seems cerebral enough that he can fit in whatever the style we choose, but Sanchez – if fit – should be our centre forward.

With his previous experience on the flank, he can float and pick up possession wherever, and his footballing brain will allow him to incorporate others into the move. 

There is simply nothing he cannot do. For a diminutive player, even his heading is far and beyond what it should be. His incredible athleticism allows him to get the drop on his markers and leap higher than he really ought to be able to.

Sergio Aguero may be viewed as the leading marksman for City, and in the Premier League, but Alexis Sanchez could just be our own Aguero. 

We all know we would benefit from that. Wenger plays him as a striker, so he has obviously seen all the markers in his play that is required for centre forward utilisation – and Wenger knows more than we do, ultimately. Over thirty years of top-flight coaching will give you that knowledge.

Sergio Aguero – Alexis Sanchez. If both stay fit, then the battle for the Golden Boot – and perhaps the title – will be compulsive viewing.