Alexis Sanchez’s form in front of goal has declined, but this was expected to happen.
The Chilean scored 30 goals in all competitions last season but, watching him play now, he no longer looks as sharp or as threatening in the final third. Two goals from eight games is a slow start to the season by his high standards, but what has caused it, and how concerned should we really be about his lack of form?
The stats suggest that he’s getting plenty of shots away.
On the surface, this tells us that his conversation rate has been poorer.
However, a look at his shot map this season reveals that many of his shots have come from outside the box or left of centre in the penalty area.
Shots taken from those areas have less chance of going in. Last season’s shot map shows a high number of shots from the middle of the penalty area – the area where players have the highest chance of scoring.
Why this is happening is simple enough to work out.
Alexis played much of last season as the centre forward and was able to occupy central positions more often. This season, he’s returned to the left flank, which fuels his habit of cutting inside and taking low-percentage shots from distance.
With Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey regularly occupying central positions, Alexis finds himself confined on the left hand side more often. Another aspect to consider is that he hasn’t played many games with serial provider Mesut Ozil this season. The pair have started just three games together, and it’s clear they’re suffering from the lack of link-up play.
The other big factor to consider is simply luck and its various effects on form.
According to Understat, Alexis’ expected goals tally last season in the Premier League was 17.72, yet his actual goal tally ended up much higher at 24. There are two ways this can be interpreted: one is that Alexis over-performed massively last season, the other is that some of his goals were fortunate to go in.
In all likelihood, it was a mixture of both.
Any under-performance this season, then, could be Alexis regressing to the mean.
He scored 16 and 13 league goals in his first two seasons at the club. Last season was an incredible year for him, as Chile won the Copa America and he was voted the tournament’s best player. High on confidence, and given a central role in Arsenal’s front-line, his form exploded.
This season has been wildly different. He wanted to leave the club in the summer, and Chile missed out on the World Cup.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that his form has dropped.
Arsene Wenger feels that his form will pick up again eventually. By all accounts, it should do.
We’ve seen enough of Alexis over the years to know what level he can consistently achieve.
However, it’s very doubtful that he’ll reach the level he did last season in Arsenal colours.
There’s simply too much going against him – his luck, the performance of his team, and his happiness at the club – for that to happen.