Arsenal’s ‘Dead Wood’ and their careers at the club

It is no shock that Arsenal’s transfer plans have stalled, the media pinning it on the squads deadwood. Headlines consist of ‘Arsenal must sell before they buy’ and ‘Arsenal must trim the fat on their squad to bring in anymore players’. In any case the dead wood is proving hard to get rid of, the likes of Gibbs and Debuchy pricing themselves out of a move with hefty wages.

Kieran Gibbs

Gibbs signed his first professional contract with Arsenal almost exactly ten years ago, in September 2007. The now 27-year-old was deemed a first choice fullback after Clichy departed the club and fulfilled his role with confidence and composure. Calling a player who has made over 100 appearances for Arsenal and captained the club on several occasions ‘dead wood’ may be seen as insulting but he is certainly surplus to requirements at our current level. Watford were put off by a £16m price tag, West Brom unwilling to match his wages and now Galatasaray seem his last option. The arrival of Nacho Monreal and constant niggling injuries upset Gibbs’ rhythm but after ten years at first team level it looks likely that his time in North London is coming to an end.

Mathieu Debuchy

Whether Debuchy would’ve lasted as our first choice right back is up for debate but there is no questioning how rotten the Frenchman’s luck has been. In September of his first season he was ruled out for three months following surgery on his ankle, a month after returning he was ruled out for another three months after dislocating his shoulder. The emergence of Hector Bellerin and the timely injuries suffered meant that he has only played thirteen Premier League games in red and white colours after signing for a rumoured £12m fee. Besiktas and Marseille have been linked with the now 32-year-old, a return to France looking likely for the man who spent the second half of the 2015/16 season on loan at Bordeaux.

Carl Jenkinson

Birmingham have just confirmed the loan signing of both Carl Jenkinson and youngster Cohen Bramall but a permanent departure has never looked on the cards. The boyhood Arsenal fan has only made 62 appearances despite signing six years ago. Multiple loan spells saw him make just three less appearances for West Ham than he has in North London, impressing in parts before injury struck yet again. Along with Gibbs, Jenkinson was a part of the now failed British Core, a project which seems to be coming to an end.

Lucas Perez

Whilst the previous three have outstayed their welcome many fans would argue that Perez wasn’t even given a chance, Arsenal’s hand not extended in friendship. The Spaniard played just 1038 minutes during last season, used mainly in domestic cup competitions. Fans will have fond memories of Perez despite opinions of him splitting down the middle. His superb volley against Bournemouth sparked a miraculous comeback, his hattrick against Basel in the Champions League helped us top the group whilst his performances in the early rounds of the FA Cup led us to lifting the trophy again. Deportivo and Everton have been interested but it seems the club wants to make back the money it spent on the forward just a year ago, his time in London short and not so sweet.

With the departures of Jenkinson, on loan, and Gabriel to Valencia the club will be hoping that more follow. If the media is to be believed the price tags have come down and the sale is about to begin.

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Blog: Youth Players in the Coming Season

In the last few seasons, despite the loss of talented individuals such as Daniel Crowley, Chris Willock and Serge Gnabry, a lot of work has been done to ensure those worthy enough are able to smoothly transition from the youth teams to senior level.

The past three seasons have seen both Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi become firm figures in the first team whilst Francis Coquelin, once of the academy, was able to make use of his loan experiences and come back a useful ball-winning alternative player. This season should see the opportunity of game time increase with the Europa League potentially throwing up some ‘easier’ European ties.

“I will always play a team that has a good chance to win the next game. In the Europa League, if we can afford sometimes to rest some players, we will do it. But we have to adapt to the level of the competition and see first what kind of group we play in.” – Arsene Wenger speaking on his sides upcoming adventure in the Europa League

A few youthful faces on the fringes will be raring to grasp an opportunity if one comes their way. Reine-Adelaide featured in domestic cup competitions last season but will need to really tie down his talents and ensure consistency if his long term future is to be in red and white. Ainsley Maitland-Niles was another player who played in cup competitions but only featured for one singular minute of Premier League football, against Sunderland. His ability to play wingback and in midfield will see him pushed further up the pecking order with the new 3-4-3 system utilised by Wenger; Maitland-Niles acting as a more than viable option if Oxlade-Chamberlain is sold or if injuries deplete the squad.

Whilst Krystian Bielik and Cohen Bramall seem to be edging towards well needed loan deals, two youngsters that made the step up in pre season both impressed the boss. Wenger, speaking after his sides pre-season victory over Sydney FC had this to say about Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson, “It’s a bit early but what they have shown tonight is they have a chance to be very, very close to the first team.”

The upcoming season should see Joe Willock, younger brother of the now Benfica owned Chris, remain in the youth set up having featured mainly for the U-18s. The increase in quality is too much at this early stage but mixing with the U23s can only be a benefit. Reiss Nelson on the other hand is an imperious talent. Nelson, an attack minded 17-year-old, featured heavily at wingback in the Gunners pre-season schedule and was arguably the most impressive of the lot. The London born teenager is more than used to playing above his age range, playing over 1000 minutes for the U23s last season and heavily influencing Arsenal’s run in the UEFA Youth league. It wasn’t just fans heaping praise on to Nelson with Wenger describing the winger as “A young player from our academy and he has had an encouraging pre-season. He has shown that he can dribble, go past people and he isn’t fazed by the occasion.”

Wenger looks set to utilise the academy amidst the organised chaos of playing in four competitions including the much maligned Europa League. “We have some young players who will join the squad next season” he said, “Like Reiss Nelson, like Ainsley Maitland-Niles already. So they are two players. So we have quality players who might have a chance next season and hopefully we will be able to do that again because that’s part of the DNA of the club as well.” Nelson and Maitland-Niles will be hopeful of chances this season as Bellerin and Iwobi were in the not so distant past; combining with Wilshere, Gibbs and Coquelin, a strong academy presence rings through the squad. No-one can predict the future but opportunities and support will have to be grasped upon if it is to be as bright as possible.

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Blog: How are the Summer departures doing?

Loan spells were renewed, big names sent out, youngsters given game time and contracts came to an end. I took how a look at how some of these players are doing at the midway point of the season:

Permanent deals

Isaac Hayden’s stint at Newcastle has got off to a steady start. Having made 29 appearances so far this season he has asserted himself as a solid defensive midfielder, willing to help the collective whilst showing off just how authoritative he can be in the middle of the park. His consistency and maturity are just two of the reasons why Newcastle fans are pleased to have him tied down for five years.

When Serge Gnabry signed on the dotted line for Werder Bremen a lot of heads were turned. Question marks about minimal game time and assurances about his talent all came to a head when the German took the Bundesliga by storm. The 21-year-old has featured in a variety of attacking positions and has managed to become his clubs top scorer up to now contributing to seven goals in sixteen appearances. His performances have been of such a standard that another potential move could be on the cards already.

Expired contracts

Fan favourite Tomas Rosicky has only featured for eighteen minutes this season with boyhood club Sparta Prague  due to continued injuries. Only one departure featured for less time on the pitch, the now retired Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard and ex Club captain joined the coaching staff of Manchester City in a bid to learn from Pep Guardiola himself and gain experience with a top level squad. Arteta was the first member of Guardiola’s coaching staff to be officially confirmed and will hope to use the experience to springboard his coaching career.

Mathieu Flamini remains in London having signed as a free agent for Crystal Palace. Flamini was brought in as an experienced head but, in a struggling season for the Eagles, has not brought anything of note to the squad.

Loan moves

Arsenal loaned out many faces in the Summer transfer window be it through want of game time, a need for experience or simply to prove their worth. Jack Wilshere needed game time and ultimately needed to prove his fitness was sufficient for those at the top level. Having now featured in nineteen consecutive Premier League games for AFC Bournemouth the Englishman has successfully overcome his injury woes under the guidance of Eddie Howe. Wilshere has played for more minutes this campaign than he managed in the previous two campaigns with Arsenal combined. Proving his talent every match-day has been tough viewing for many Arsenal fans who want the academy product back in the squad.

“Yes, I could use him now, but if he had not played until now, he would not be ready to play now.” – Arsene Wenger defending his decision to send Wilshere out on loan

Another Englishman looking to stake his claim in the Arsenal squad for next season is Calum Chambers. The defender is on loan at Middlesbrough and has started the majority of games in his preferred central position. Earlier in the season Arsene Wenger expressed his delight on how Chambers loan move was doing and stated “he needed experience and Premier League games.” That aim has certainly been achieved and, although the 22-year-old has recently suffered a stress fracture of his foot, it is only a bump on what was, up to then, a smooth road.

Many thought Joel Campbell was unlucky to be loaned out but his spell at Sporting Lisbon thus far has blown hot and cold. The Costa Rican has predominantly played on the left wing and used mainly as an impact substitution but his team currently resides in fourth place and his game time has been limited by those more talented and useful to the squad.

Jack Wilshere is wanted back by many but perhaps the most wanted man, forgotten by some, is Wojciech Szczesny. The Polish international is currently in his second spell with AS Roma with the Italian club pursuing his purchase; and why not, having kept nine cleansheets in 21 Serie A appearances this season and becoming one of Spaletti’s most important players.

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BLOG: MESUT ÖZIL: PUSHING FORWARD

Mesut Özil has not swapped assists for goals. Mesut Özil is a player that utilises his talents to help the team in the most efficient way possible. Arsene Wenger called out for his team to score more goals and Özil is just one of the players who answered. With 8 goals in 45 appearances last season, the German has already matched this tally within 18 appearances and looks set to continue pushing forward.

“He’s got more of a taste to score goals because he’s running in behind more. Before, he only liked coming to the ball and providing, but we want him to be a provider and a scorer. It looks like he’s slowly moving towards that better balance. He’s playing with confidence.” – Arsene Wenger on Mesut Özil

The fluidity of Arsenal’s front players has allowed Özil to take advantage of his greatest asset. Reading space like no other Arsenal player can the 28-year-old is able to tear down defences with sharp runs and incisive passes. Positional diagrams and passing network maps for Arsenal show Ozil is one of, if not the, most forward player in the side. Bursting through and receiving high up the pitch. Vacating and occupying space at will with the best outcome for the collective always the aim.

Mesut Özil is often the first press for Arsenal, constantly pushing up high alongside Alexis Sanchez in a bid to unsettle those on the ball and win possession. The Chilean has perhaps been the initiator for Özil’s slight change of role and presence in the side as Sanchez’ position as striker has boosted the forward fluidity of Arsenal and acted to spread out the responsibility of goal-scoring throughout the midfield. This season Özil is averaging more shots per game than any other as an Arsenal player, shooting on average every 48 minutes compared to last seasons 65 and his worth to the team in terms of control and directness has continued to increase.

Alexis Sanchez’ false nine role sees him drop deep, providing space that Özil among others often exploit. Sanchez coming deeper for the ball and receiving in wide areas means that opportunities are present for those that want. Arsenal’s two best players have combined to devastating effect this season, combining for a multitude of goals. The exquisite interplay between the two against Chelsea leading to an Özil goal stands out but other examples display the havoc that the German’s forward runs have caused thus far this season.

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Sanchez recieves the ball in a wide area whilst Mesut Ozil runs directly into the Watford box before scoring a free header.

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Sanchez looks to receive the ball deep but slips. Mesut Ozil points to where he wants the ball before driving past the Stoke defence and scoring another header.

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The combination of Sanchez’s vision and Ozil’s pace combines to great effect, Alex Iwobi takes advantage of the space created to score a goal.

Mesut Özil continues to improve his efficiency and use of space, his relationship with those around him is only helping matters.

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MATCH REPORT: ARSENAL 3-1 BOURNEMOUTH

A run of draws has dented Arsenal’s confidence who hoped for all three points against Bournemouth. Mathieu Debuchy was brought back in at right back, the Frenchman was one of seven changes from the midweek clash against PSG; Cech, Debuchy, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Walcott and Chamberlain all starting this matchup. The away side were without Jack Wilshere for obvious reasons but lined up with pace in attack. Stanislas, Wilson and King were to provide a solid threat to a nervous Arsenal rearguard.

Both sides started on the front foot, Arsenal forcing Bournemouth bookings whilst the Cherries gave as good as they got in terms of chance creation. In fact it was Bournemouth who unceremoniously created the home sides first, Steve Cook scuffing his pass into the path of Sanchez who accepted the early Christmas present  with an assured finish.

Bournemouth responded extremely well to the setback and it wasn’t long before they found more reason to exploit the Arsenal back four. Mathieu Debuchy, making his comeback from injury, lasted just sixteen minutes before coming off via another one. Debuchy’s replacement was Gabriel, the introduction of the Brazilian defender seemed to spur the visitors on and unsettle the Arsenal backline.

Unsettled it was because less than ten minutes later Monreal, struggling for top form, made contact with Callum Wilson whose fall led Mike Jones to point to the spot. Wilson himself stepped up and sent Cech the wrong way, scoring Bournemouths first ever goal against Arsenal in the process. It was deserved. The game ebbed and flowed, Arsenal beginning to build up pressure but the tenacity of Arter in midfield and the pace of the attacking three meant Bournemouth were a constant threat on the break.

Arsenal, pushing for the equaliser, saw Sanchez hit the bar before halftime but didn’t have to wait long in the second half to see a breakthrough. Sanchez and Ozil interchanged passes before the German’s cross found its way to Monreal. The Spaniard cushioned the ball to the back post where Walcott was waiting patiently to head into a gaping goal. 

Theo Walcott dedicating his goal to his newly born child.

Substitutions and increased Arsenal possession saw the whirlwind tempo of the first half disappear, the Arsenal performance more controlled and composed. Bournemouth however had not given up hope. Benik Afobe, on for Wilson, almost drew his side level but Petr Cech was on hand to thwart the former Arsenal man with a fantastic save from close range.

Giroud and Ramsey also entered the fray with impressive cameos but it was Alexis Sanchez who continued to shine brightest. The Chilean excelling in all aspects in front of the excited Emirates crowd. The well needed victory was completed by the MOTM; Ozil finding Giroud who pulled the ball back for Sanchez who ghosted into space before scoring his second of the day.

Remaining unbeaten and with a number of excellent performers Arsenal remain three points off top spot and will hope to keep up their consistent form.

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BLOG: RAMSEY: PLACE YOUR BRICK

In the eleven days between Wales’ dogged draw against Serbia and Arsenal’s monotonous PSG stalemate Aaron Ramsey featured in no less than three roles. The Welshman has seen himself occupy an almost ever-changing position in the last few seasons; a persistent positional problem. The multifaceted, enthusiastic 25-year-old throws out more questions than answers. Much like snowflakes, no two players are the same but finalising a fixed position would benefit the progression of both club and individual. Delving deeper into the eleven days spoken about above shows just how and perhaps why Ramsey’s problem needs solving.

Ramsey vs Serbia

With Allen and Ledley sitting behind, Ramsey had free role roaming from the left wing. Frequent interchanges with Gareth Bale meant vacant space could be taken up by Robson-Kanu in a bid to exploit Serbia’s right hand side of Rukavina and Ivanovic. When Ramsey dropped back into central midfield Joe Allen would push behind Sam Vokes, the versatile team shape almost mirroring Ramsey’s movements. Chris Coleman building the Nations hopes on teamwork and the effectiveness of Bale and Ramsey, something the Arsenal man sometimes struggles with.

Ramsey vs Manchester United

Operating in a wide left role again but this time less high up and less flexible, Ramsey and Arsenal struggled at Old Trafford once again. In a bid to provide defensive cover Ramsey committed the most fouls by an Arsenal player, slowing down the game and playing into the hands of Mourinho. Ramsey was dispossessed five times, the most of any player on the pitch, as he struggled to exert his influence in a notoriously difficult ground for the Gunners.

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Aaron Ramsey battling against Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera.

Often the highest player up the pitch for Arsenal Ramsey would find himself at the back post for crosses and provide support for Alexis Sanchez, defensive cover for the out of form Monreal was an after thought. Ramsey carelessly conceded the ball in tight areas when pressed by United and provided them with clear chances to score. When the goal eventually came for the home side it was down the left from which the chance arose; Herrera and Pogba outnumbering Monreal who was left to fend for himself.

Ramsey vs PSG

Partnering Francis Coquelin in a central role Ramsey was back in his favoured position. His defensive duties saw him win the most tackles on the pitch and the most interceptions by an Arsenal player as PSG moved the ball with intelligence in midfield. A scapegoat in the stands Ramsey was safe and simple with his passing selections, not risking to lose the ball to such a lethal counter attacking team. His contributions high up the pitch in terms of pressing and supporting attacks were effective and it was his shot that led to Arsenals second goal.

Coquelin was far from helpful but Ramsey held his own against the stout, skilled midfield of the visitors.

Moving forward

It is clear that for Ramsey to be efficient he has to play centrally or with the team flexible around his movements. A rather polite stalemate with Arsene Wenger has seen Ramsey publicly voice his wishes to play centrally whilst Wenger continues to recognise the Welshmans talents, shoehorning him into the side if possible. It says a lot about his importance when Arsene Wenger, according to Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph, played Ramsey against both United and PSG despite a broken toe. Regardless of the vast plethora of baying midfielders Ramsey remains key. Kenneth Librecht, a professor of physics, one said “There are a limited number of ways to arrange a handful of bricks. But if you have a lot of bricks, the number of combinations grows very quickly. With enough of them, you can make a driveway, a sidewalk or a house.” Aaron Ramsey must place his brick and find a permanent place in the house that is Arsenal.

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BLOG: RIGHT BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

Hector Bellerin’s injury has been well publicised, the right back picking up a recurrence of an ankle injury amidst public fitness worries. Unable to complete full training and forced to withdraw from Spain’s under 21 squad it seems as if Arsenal’s current injury woes are to continue.

The 21-year-old is the only outfield player to have featured in every minute of Arsenal’s Premier League campaign thus far and his absence will be felt. Since his debut Bellerin quickly adapted to physical rigours whilst continuing to embrace his attacking outlook. Bellerin is likely to miss the rest of November with no replacement particularly inspiring.

The most likely to plug the gap is Carl Jenkinson. The Englishman has only recently returned from a serious ligament injury which thwarted his loan progress, returning to action in early October. Jenkinson has since featured in the EFL Cup and in the Champions League when Bellerin was unavailable. Although not possessing the same athletic attributes as Bellerin or as alert defensively, Jenkinson would provide adequate if not slightly weak cover in what is a tough month ahead for the Gunners.

 

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Carl Jenkinson making his comeback from injury in the U21 Premier League.

 

Another possibility is the emergence of Mathieu Debuchy from the shadows. The frozen out Frenchman has been used sparingly at best, playing just 512 minutes last season and none so far this.  His Arsenal career has always been far from assured and his place in the pecking order is surely humbling, a return to the squad far from realistic.

Summer signings Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi could also be capable at covering the right back position. Holding featured at right back ten times for Bolton in his breakout season and has featured in a variety of defensive positions throughout his youthful career. His decision making with the ball and ample positioning, similar to Callum Chambers in many regards, means a fullback slot wouldn’t turn heads although a lack of pace and experience could prove problematic. Experience is something Mustafi provides playing right back frequently in his early career and given the responsibility of the role in the 2014 World Cup before injury however Mustafi has not played there since. His confidence and competence in the position make him more than capable of filling a Bellerin shaped hole.

A less viable option comes in the form of Francis Coquelin. The French midfielder has previous, filling in at both left and right back for Arsenal in the past, and would provide stout cover. Positioning may yet again be a worry for Arsene Wenger who might instead look to promote from within. Much like Bellerin himself, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is a product of the Club’s academy and is more than proficient in a full back role. Although Wenger sees him more as a midfielder he can still drop back if needed much like in the EFL Cup tie against Nottingham Forest earlier on in the season, albeit when Jenkinson was unavailable.

With six plausible candidates for the vacant position it seems as if Carl Jenkinson is the most probable to get the job. A plethora of options but none quite so convincing, Arsene Wenger will be straining to get the balance right amid the notorious month of November.

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BLOG: BUILDING BLOCKS

Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi were first used together four games into the season at home to Southampton. Brought in over the summer, Mustafi was always going to be first choice but the speed in which he has settled has been astounding.

Upon signing his Arsenal contract I profiled Mustafi, writing about his wealth of experience and confident playing style; I posed the question about a consolidated place in the starting lineup for Mustafi and the German has answered emphatically. In his nine games for Arsenal thus far he has conceded only five goals, kept five clean sheets and remained unbeaten. All nine of his games have been alongside Laurent Koscielny.

The stand-in Captain and the newly acquired German wasted no time in proving their worth as a defensive partnership, displaying their strengths from the get-go. The pair work effectively because of their similarities; anticipation, interceptions, incisive forward passing and aerial ability, an intelligent yet aggressive style of defensive play.

 

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Arsene Wenger speaking to both Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi.

 

Speaking to the official club website , Mustafi reiterated these points. “We are quite similar in the style of playing, he understands things that I do, I understand things that he does. If you play with someone who understands football in a different way, it’s even more difficult to get on with.” Both Mustafi and Koscielny form the building blocks to Arsenal’s style and success, defending astutely and passing with purpose. In recent games Mustafi has, on occasion, pushed up to help distribute the ball from midfield areas aswell as keeping the opposition at bay.

With five clean sheets in their last six games Koscielny and Mustafi are consistently displaying their worth. Theo Walcott has recently spoken out about the defensive unit acting as a base, solidifying the team and allowing the attack to flow. The building blocks of Arsenal may be newly constructed and the longevity questioned but the talent and progressiveness of the pair is evident for all to see.

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THEO WALCOTT: REPAY

A previous season entwined with low confidence and output led many to believe that Theo Walcott’s relationship with Arsenal should come to an end but the Englishman had other ideas. In the Summer he was left out of England’s EURO 2016 squad, Walcott trained hard in a bid to be back to his best.

“I spoke to many people and it maybe woke up something in my system, I don’t know. I am completely different. I just want to be better and better, people have had so much faith in me and I tend to think I need to repay people.” – Theo Walcott

Walcott recently gave up on his central striker dream however with Alexis upfront and his tendencies to drop deep, Walcott’s positioning and movement gives the team an added dimension. His pace and superb off the ball runs help to exploit the space in behind the Chilean which has severely punished teams already this season. There has been vast improvements in almost every facet of Walcott’s game; defensive work and link up play seeing a considerable advance. His short incisive passing has helped the team link up more effectively and his movement means he is a constant out-ball if the midfield is under pressure.

 

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Theo Walcott celebrating after scoring against Chelsea

 

Walcott has already made more tackles (12) in six PL apps this season than he managed in the last two seasons combined (11), via WhoScored.com. His willingness to track back and almost repay the work Bellerin does for him getting forward has been appreciated by all fans and has contributed directly to the success of this early season. His output, including goals against Liverpool, Hull, Chelsea and a brace against FC Basel show he is not afraid of the ‘big’ occasions and his work over the summer displayed just how much he wants to repay those who never gave up.

Theo Walcott made a total of 42 appearances in the 2015/16 season, managing nine goals and seven assists. The Englishman has already scored five times and assisted twice in just eight games so far this season and both Walcott and fans alike will be hoping for consistency.

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100 UP: THE SANCHEZ CENTURY

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.

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Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud celebrating after Arsenal’s 2015 FA Cup Triumph

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.

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