From the Copacabana beach and the 2014 World Cup to London Colney and an exciting new journey. Alexis Sanchez had arrived in England after a successful personal season with Barcelona and a World Cup campaign which was to light the way for future international triumphs yet the Chilean was as determined as ever to display his energetic and dynamic style of play.
“Alexis will add power, creativity and much quality to our squad and we are all looking forward to him joining up with us in a few weeks.” – Wenger upon Alexis’ arrival
His competitive debut against Manchester City and early games against Crystal Palace and Besiktas showed just how important he can be for Arsenal, combining a superb dribbling technique with determination and directness. His willingness to track back and his goal threat meant he almost immediately endeared himself to the fans and this was to continue as his output increased.
Scoring the only goal of the tie to ensure qualification to the Champions League, a sumptuous controlled volley against Manchester City and a pinpoint freekick in a defeat to Southampton showed the extent of his talent and quickly displayed his importance to the club. Performances in all competitions had output and influence on the scoreline. His FA Cup performances helped the club through the first round against Hull, scoring and assisting, before his Wembley endeavours stole the spotlight. Sanchez scored both goals in a nervous 2-1 win over Reading after extra time and managed to hit the 25 goal mark in the Final with a long range strike against Aston Villa which will last long in the memories of all Arsenal fans. His maiden season in English football had brought with it a vast amount of admiration and accolades; the Chilean picking up the PFA Fan’s Player of the Year award, included in the PFA Team of the Year and deservedly winning Arsenal’s Player of the Year award.
Contributing to 37 goals and assists in just 52 games, it is not hard to see why he was the recipient of such accolades, Thierry Henry even calling him “Arsenal’s best signing of the last six years”. Frustrations had also become evident in his debut season however the vast output had stopped criticisms. His second season, hampered by a mid-season injury and inconsistencies in form still saw him contribute 28 goals and assists in just 41 games.
A hat-trick away at Leicester, a rifling drive against Manchester United and an equaliser at White Hart Lane saw his catalogue of important goals gain another chapter in a season in which his flaws were seen by many but his goal return remained steady. The current season has brought with it a change in number but his drive and creativity has remained at the same high level he set upon joining the London club. Involved in six goals in as many games, Alexis Sanchez has started this season as potent as ever.
A century of appearances has brought with it 46 goals, 25 assists and a huge impression. Alexis Sanchez’s determination is unwavering and his talent mastered, his influence continues to grow.
Follow me on Twitter: @ElliottM95