Alexis Sanchez has played for a mind-boggling number of minutes since joining Arsenal. In his three Premier League seasons, he has played in 103 of 114 matches.
He totaled 8,623 minutes in the league and has also played in all 24 of Arsenal’s Champions League matches, totaling 1,889 minutes. On top of that, Alexis has played in 15 FA Cup matches, two League Cup and one Community Shield.
Internationally, he has played in most of the games for the Chilean national team. Since the 2014 World Cup, he has played in 48 matches for Chile. Add all of this up, and you get 193 matches in three years. That is an insane amount of mileage on a pair of legs.
Anytime he is subbed off, he looks furious. The Chilean is in incredible shape. The fact he’s remained mostly healthy throughout this three-year period is even more incredible.
And in these matches, he is not a center-half who sits back for most of the 90 minutes. Alexis flies around at full sprint, never seeming to tire. The Chilean is a machine.
Since he has played in an international tournament every summer, this may be worrying. He has not had much time off but has played in almost every match for three years, proving his doubters wrong. His body does not appear to need recovery time like normal people.
With the Confederations Cup this summer, Thursday night games in the Europa League and the World Cup next summer, there is no end in sight. Hopefully, his body holds up as it has been.
Contrast with Arsenal injury record
Over the past 10 years, Arsenal have had an abysmal injury record. Several players seemed to be made of glass.
There was Abou Diaby, whose immense talent was never able to fully blossom because he would be sidelined every six months with something new. Jack Wilshere’s ankles break every time the wind blows.
Tomas Rosicky was a fantastic player but could not stay out of the hospital. Santi Cazorla has been out for forever, with no comeback in sight. Even Per Mertesacker spent a year out.
Theo Walcott has had several knee problems. Robin van Persie left after he finally got healthy enough to play a full season. Is Mathieu Debuchy even still alive?
Just when Arsenal get in a rhythm, a key player will come up injured. This is part of what makes Alexis even more incredible.
Either the Gunners have terrible medical staff and training habits or they have terrible luck. Alexis has overcome potentially both, or at least proven it may just be bad luck, not the medical staff. He has been an absolute rock for the Gunners.
When players like Laurent Koscielny, Debuchy, Cazorla, Wilshere, and Danny Welbeck start dropping like flies, he has always been in the team.
If any other Arsenal player had that many minutes under him, he surely would have had several major surgeries by now. But Alexis is a different animal. He plays the full game at top speed, takes hard challenges and still has enough fuel to bag late winners. Incredible.
Health has paid dividends on the field
Staying healthy, for many Arsenal players, was the only thing between them and stardom. One could argue the reason Arsenal have not won the Premier League title in so long is not due to the quality of the players or manager, but because those quality players just could not stay on the pitch.
When the best player on the team finally stays healthy, the results speak for themselves. Sanchez has won two FA Cups since joining Arsenal. And while those may not be the trophies fans want, it’s still silverware. He played key roles in both FA Cup finals, and without him, those trophies could have been someone else’s.
Individually, it is nice to see what a top-quality player can do in a full season. In 2016/2017, Alexis chipped in 30 goals in all competitions. He is the club’s first 30-goal scorer since Robin van Persie in 2011-2012. He also put up 13 assists. Although Arsenal came fifth, without Sanchez’s heroics it surely would have been worse.
He is the star forward fans have begged for, and the fact he is healthy enough to give 100% and play virtually every match makes that even sweeter. With the addition of Alexandre Lacazette, if Arsenal can keep Sanchez and keep everyone relatively healthy, a title run is certainly not out of the question.
If it does not happen this year, it may never happen. With the three-pronged attack of Sanchez, Lacazette and Mesut Özil, Arsenal have a weapon that is absolutely world class.
The only attacks that appear better on paper is Barcelona’s Lionel Messi-Luis Suarez-Neymar and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo-Karim Benzema-GarethBale. This is high praise for a unit that has yet to play together, but the potential for greatness is there.
If Arsenal’s trio can stay healthy, the Gunners have a chance at the Premier League crown this season, as well as a better shot at another FA Cup and the Europa League. But as always with Arsenal, that is a big “if.”