Somewhat naively, I always thought that Alexis Sanchez would make a good striker. How wrong was I?
When we first caught wind that the Chilean had been training up front and could therefore be getting utilised as a striker until we signed someone new, most Gooners were actually pretty optimistic. He’s got an eye for goal, fantastic movement, unrivaled work rate – what could go wrong? A lot, apparently.
The forward started alone up front for Arsenal and finished… I don’t know where because he went missing. He’s probably still running around N7 somewhere.
The 27-year-old almost looked lost at points, sometimes instinctively trying to drift out wide before remembering that’s not where he was supposed to be.
You see, Alexis is used to running a lot, he’s used to helping. When things aren’t going his way he just tears down the flank so that he at least feels he’s doing something. It’s why he can’t sit on the bench, even if he’s ‘in the red’. He has to be able to do something to influence the run of play. He’s probably one of the most ‘proactive’ members of the squad. Combine that with his speed, strength and ability to cut inside, even if he does hold onto the ball too long at times, and he’s the perfect wide-man. Alone up front, he was lost, clumsy and practically useless.
With Jurgen Klopp’s style of football, Liverpool were able to cut Alexis out of the game entirely. Effectively been down to 10-men for 90 minutes isn’t good, it’s especially awful when that man they’ve managed to nullify is one of your star players.
If Alexis had perhaps had another forward alongside him, like when he plays with Vargas for Chile, he could be fantastic. He needs someone to play off. But on his own he’s completely isolated.
So, what have we learnt? That perhaps Alexis could play well up front if he’s paired up with someone but on his own he’s cut out of the game and our whole system falls apart. It also highlights the need for another out-and-out striker, rather than shoving square pegs in round holes.
I’m sure playing Alexis up front for Liverpool was just an experiment but we can definitely chalk it up to lessons learnt.