When Arsenal finally got around to selling Alexis Sanchez, something Arsene Wenger now believes should have happened in the summer, he left a pretty big hole in the Arsenal side. The arrivals of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang certainly cushion the blow but you could see both the good and the bad in the Arsenal side after Alexis left. They have played both scintillating and listless football in equal measure.
But you got the sense that the saga had weighed on the team and certainly the immediate thumping of Crystal Palace let some to believe there was some new air in the room without the Chilean attacker. Hector Bellerin, in speaking to the Oxford Union (of all places), shed a bit more light on what playing with the man meant:
“Alexis is an amazing player. One of the best in the Premier League for sure but he is a player who always wants to win. He demands from everyone, sometimes it can be too much.
“The great thing is he wants to win, to give 100 per cent. This season maybe things weren’t going as well for him but I truly believe he was giving 100 per cent.”
Given Alexis’ antics on the field, this is pretty much in line with our impression of him. Alexis was a very animated and passionate player. His equal measure elation and frustration at any point in a match clearly could rub some players the wrong way and perhaps led to some of the friction in the team. But Bellerin was very glowing about his effort so perhaps revisiting the “checked out” opinions of the past few months might be in order.
As to whether there was anything personal between Bellerin and Alexis, an accusation brought up when the defender did not celebrate with the team on one of Alexis’ goals earlier, he said this:
“There was one game against Crystal Palace. We celebrated a goal and some of the players went I stayed back, I was talking to Calum Chambers because there was some tactical stuff.
“For me that was more important than celebrating the goal.”
So there you go; he may have silly hair, but never mistake Hector for anything but a professional. I’m certain he wishes Alexis all the best in scuppering Manchester United’s league place to the benefit of all.