On the 10th of July, Arsenal shrugged off competition from Liverpool to secure the signing of the much wanted Chilean attacker, Alexis Sanchez. Having secured the signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid on the deadline day of the last season, Sanchez arrives at North London as the second major coup in two years as Arsene Wenger looks to turn around the club’s fortunes after its barren spell.
The former FC Barcelona player has enjoyed three successful years at the Catalan club, notching 141 appearances and scoring 47 goals, with his tally of 21 goals last year being his best return. He also had a very good World Cup, helping his country beat Spain as they managed to reach the pre-quarterfinals where they were beaten on penalties by Brazil.
Top class as he may be, there still remains the question of where he is going to fit into Arsene’s puzzle. Arsenal were desperate for some firepower upfront last season, with Olivier Giroud burning out towards the later stages and Theo Walcott missing out a majority of the campaign through injury. Giroud’s lack of goals against the bigger clubs also left something to be desired.
Wenger indicated towards the end of last season that he wanted a forward who could play with Giroud and not someone who would replace him. So should we expect another striker to join Arsenal, or has Wenger concluded his business in the attacking department?
Given that Sanchez has primarily played as a right sided attacker for most of his career, and sometimes played down the middle in a supporting role, it would seem that his best role is not to lead the line. But having said that, he does possess all the characteristics that a striker should have. Powerful, pacy and gifted with a pair of nimble feet, he provides an alternative to the target man that is Giroud. While he will be at his best playing off Giroud, Sanchez can surely replace him in the centre of the park when need be. He has the intelligence and awareness needed to play in the position, and has one quality that Giroud very evidently lacks – to score a goal from the tightest of situations. While being a talented wide player and a great provider, he does possess a knack for goals, whether it is the intelligence to know where to be when the ball arrives in the box, or the vision to see that one opening to get a shot away while surrounded by defenders or from a tight angle.
Overall, I feel that there won’t be any more strikers coming in this summer. With Campbell returning from loan and Sanogo’s presence in the squad, Wenger would be satisfied with the options he has with him. Walcott returning from injury will also boost his striking options. Furthermore, talks of a new contract being offered to Giroud shows that Wenger still sees him as the man to lead the line for Arsenal.