Alexis Sanchez has been...it’s reductive to say “a revelation” at striker, because he’s always been a really good attacking player out wide, so I guess I’ll say “pleasant surprise” instead.
Since moving into and fully adapting to that central role, he’s given Arsenal a whole different look in attack - where Giroud is a more classic center-forward, who is as comfortable with his back to the goal as he is scoring, Alexis is much more multi-dimensional in his play, and he can pop up from anywhere and score in the blink of an eye.
It wasn’t always so easy, though - Arsene Wenger said in an interview today that
“I must honestly say that there were many times when I played him [in that position], last year or two years ago, that I thought I was wrong. The few experiences I attempted with him through the middle were not convincing and I remember even in one game I changed it at half-time.”
As we all know, Wenger turned Thierry Henry into one of the best strikers in the last 30 years, and it appears he’s on his way to doing the same with Alexis; in talking about what makes Alexis such a danger going forward, Wenger said
“He knows when to come off and when to go in behind. He has more freedom and he takes advantage of his technique much more.”
After being subbed out in his first start at forward against Everton, Alexis’ game has grown by leaps and bounds, and I for one am extremely glad that Wenger brought him in from the wing, had the patience to keep playing him up front, and has let him do his thing. Alexis is a joy to watch, and I’m glad he’s playing for a coach who can see what a player is capable of as much as what a player can currently do.