Following his lively cameo appearance during the Chelsea defeat on Sunday, Alexis Sánchez was energetic and effective as usual on display against Burnley, scoring a goal to help us progress into Round Five of this year’s FA Cup.
After his hamstring injury, sustained in late November, the talented Chilean was sidelined for two months. His return to the starting eleven was understandably delayed, given the possibility of aggravation if he had rushed his recovery.
Against Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea side, he was a constant nuisance and handful for the visitors’ backline to deal with. Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel were both booked for forceful, cynical challenges to halt the forward in his tracks.
Another impressive showing
Against Burnley, he replicated that performance and got himself on the scoresheet for his efforts. Midway through the first-half, it was evident that his presence alone was effective in helping to improve the overall intensity of the team in the final third.
The way he works tirelessly, both on and off the ball, has a reciprocating effect on his teammates, who alongside him, were often attempting to create angles of space for him to pass them the ball. In particular, Alex Iwobi did this very well throughout.
For the opening goal, although the plaudits will deservedly go to the goal-scorer, Sánchez was heavily involved and credited with the assist. After some patient build-up play on the edge of the area between himself and Iwobi, he shaped to shoot but with three defenders bearing down on him, he elected to unselfishly poke the ball towards Chambers.
The versatile youngster – who curved his position in the area to stay onside – curled an excellent first-time strike into the corner of Tom Heaton’s net, leaving him with no chance.
Then, Alexis notched a goal of his own to regain Arsenal’s one-goal lead. Our counter-attacking brilliance looks much stronger with Alexis in the final third, and he was once more instrumental in unlocking Burnley’s stubborn defence.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s teasing delivery into the box was thumped home from close-range, and Sánchez made no mistake with his opportunity.
He could’ve sealed a second goal too, if not for an excellent diving stop by Heaton to deny his curling free-kick, minutes before he was replaced.
Applauded by the home supporters, Alexis was taken off with just over 10 minutes to play. Although he may not be 100% fit to play a full 90 yet, he’s certainly a key cog in our title charge and today’s display just reiterates his importance.