ALEXIS SANCHEZ CAN’T KEEP BEING ARSENAL’S SUPERMAN
I don’t know if Alexis Sanchez watches the television show Scrubs. In fact I highly doubt it. Instead I imagine the Chilean spends his spare time doing laps of the garden followed by a thousand perfectly executed sit-ups ahead of a good night’s sleep.
But if Sanchez did happen to watch the American sitcom then he would perhaps resonate strongly with the show’s theme tune.
“No I can’t do this all on my own because I am no superman…”
In all honesty that must be exactly what Sanchez is feeling right now.
It was the all too familiar story last season, certainly during the beginning of the campaign. Upon arriving from Barcelona for £35m Sanchez immediately became Arsenal’s talisman. He quite literally carried the team through the opening fixtures to the extent I’m surprised he didn’t have to visit a chiropractor.
After 16 games, Sanchez had 10 goals.
The winger’s supreme form gladly continued. The goals flowed and big performances came as frequently as London buses. A stunning strike in the FA Cup final was the icing on the cake as Sanchez finished the season with 25 goals in all competitions.
Arsenal’s top scorer had justified his hefty price tag.
After all that most players would be keen for a break and a deserved one at that. However, on the contrary, Sanchez instead found himself thrown into Chile’s summer quest for Copa America glory.
Unsurprisingly, with Sanchez’s determination spurring them on, Chile completed their mission. The hosts were crowned kings of South America with, that’s right you guessed it, that man Sanchez chipping home the winning penalty.
Now back at Arsenal after a whirlwind year little has seemingly changed for the 26-year-old. He may have started pre-season late and had his fitness questioned but Sanchez is still Arsenal’s catalyst.
It was there for all to see on Saturday at Leicester and again against Olympiakos.
At the King Power, Sanchez was the difference. The obvious will point to the winger’s hat-trick but an appreciation of his work-rate and commitment should not gone unnoticed. It is infectious.
When Arsenal went a goal down Sanchez was one of the first to drive them on as they fought back for a much-needed three points.
The same positive result, though, did not follow for Olympiakos.
Once again Sanchez was turned to as Arsenal frantically looked for solutions. Indeed, he very nearly gave the answers.
First he beautifully assisted Theo Walcott, cutting in from the left-hand side and sliding the ball through for the England international to finish.
Walcott then returned the favour as he picked out Sanchez for Arsenal’s second. This time one of the smallest men on the pitch rose high to head home. The Gunners were level and it seemed superman had answered the call once again.
However, it was not the case. There was no fairytale comeback this time.
Instead Sanchez was let down by his team-mates as just minutes after he put the side on level terms, the defence fell asleep and allowed Olympiakos back in front. Sanchez threw his hands up in the air.
And rightfully so because there really is only so much the Chilean can do. And there really are only so many times he can keep saving Arsenal.
It comes back to the theme tune of Scrubs and the emotions that are perhaps building up within Sanchez.
Quite frankly and bluntly he needs help from all over the park.
As his hand gesture suggested when that third goal went in against Olympiakos, what is the point in him dragging Arsenal back into the match if moments later the back-four switch off and allow the opponents to go ahead?
For Sanchez, the location of this help must be as worrying to him as it is the Arsenal fan base.
When he returned late to pre-season after the Copa America I highly doubt the winger imagined Arsenal would have signed just one player. I am sure he also did not predict that would be the case by the end of the transfer window.
But it is and it leaves both Sanchez and supporters wondering just how the burden can be shared.
Walcott seems hungry to add goals to the team and 16 in his last 20 starts certainly proves he can do just that. Beyond him though it is difficult to see who else is ready to step up.
Olivier Giroud, as good as he is for a £12m striker, can only take the team so far. Aaron Ramsey, who took the league by storm a few seasons ago, has been marooned out right to the point where you feel as though his development is going backwards rather than forwards.
Mesut Ozil will continue to create but the chances must be converted and unless the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain do so then it will be harder for Sanchez.
This is beginning, I’ll admit, to sound like a rant but in reality it is merely a word of caution. In fact it is almost a cry for help as Sanchez certainly won’t ask for it.
There is only so long Arsenal can rely on the magical Chilean and unless the rest rise to his level there will come a time when superman stops coming to the rescue.