At the end of Arsenal’s abysmal second half collapse against Anderlecht, the television screens shot to a dejected Alexis Sanchez leaving the Emirates pitch. The Chilean has been the only consistent performer for the North London side since his big money move from Barcelona.
Arriving to Arsenal from Barcelona with a hefty £32 million price tag, expectations were high of the tricky forward. Arsenal had fought off fierce competition from rivals Liverpool to his signature.
Eleven goals in sixteen starts is a very impressive return for any player in his debut season in England. Alexis has lit up the Emirates with his displays so far this season. He scored the crucial goal to ensure Champions League qualification against Besiktas.
Stunning goals against Manchester City and Southampton followed. For three games in a row Alexis dazzled opposition defences; against Hull he scored the opener and brilliantly assisted Danny Welbeck for a late equaliser.
Braces against Sunderland and Burnley came in the subsequent weeks. It wasn’t just his goals and assists that earned him plaudits. It was his tireless work rate and determination for 90 minutes which charmed the Gunners faithful.
With the impressive start Alexis has made Arsenal should be fighting at the top of the league and in Europe. However, he has been unfortunately let down by his teammates culminating in a 9 point gap to leaders Chelsea. Not one Arsenal player has shown his consistency so far this season.
Danny Welbeck at times has provided small glimmers of hope. Aaron Ramsey hasn’t hit the heights of last season. Santi Cazorla doesn’t look like the same player as of old. While, Per Mertesacker isn’t providing the experience in the centre of defence that he has gained over the years.
Injuries have had a massive impact on the squad. Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Debuchy, Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny have all been side lined for long periods. Part of the blame must lay with the boss, Arsene Wenger. Wenger failed to address Arsenal’s main squad concerns.
It was very clear that a defensive midfielder was needed but instead Wenger preferred to place his trust in Flamini and Arteta. Thomas Vermaelen wasn’t replaced. This left Arsenal with a young, raw Calum Chambers as one of the starting defenders each week.
The squad’s depth isn’t enough to compete for major honours, which is a big shame for such a massive club.
After Alexis’ stunning first half volley it should have been a comprehensive Arsenal victory over Anderlecht. Defensive frailties again cost the Gunners all three points.
It must be heart breaking for a player like Alexis to put in such a massive, tireless shift and to still come up short. His teammates need to start delivering on the pitch. His performances deserve it.