Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has frustrated many fans so far this season by continuing to play a seemingly struggling Alexis Sanchez in an unfamiliar role, whilst we have just bought a striker for that exact purpose.
When Arsenal signed Lucas Perez, he may not have been everybody’s first choice. However the striker still gave Arsenal another option other than Olivier Giroud. With the Frenchman out of the side, many would’ve expected Wenger to put faith in Lucas and play the club’s newest addition up front. But instead, Wenger persisted with playing Alexis Sanchez up front, in a role he doesn’t seem entirely comfortable, nor convincing in.
Alexis managed to grab two goals in the 4-1 win over Hull last week and so his role up front for that game can be praised. However in some of the other Premier League matches, especially in that game vs Liverpool, Alexis was seen to be very much out of the game, largely due to the fact that his presence wasn’t physically dominating against the Liverpool back line.
Alexis offers pace and drive, but in an Arsenal team that likes to get balls into the box via the wing channels, it doesn’t play to Alexis’ biggest strengths and we have therefore seen him struggle.
Arsene Wenger however seems to believe that a role up top may be what is best for Alexis and given the boss’ latest comments on the Chilean, I think we may see Alexis continue as a striker for the time being. Wenger said: ‘I play Sanchez in the middle because at the moment he scores goals, he has a quality of runs in behind and he’s less busy doing defensive work on the flanks. That allows him to contribute more to the offensive power of the team because today the full backs go forward and he uses a lot of energy in the flanks.’
It is a fair point given that Alexis is often seen to be inefficient in his defensive contribution when he plays on the wing. In Arsenal’s team set up, the attacking winger needs to help cover the wing back when defending, as well as track back during opposition attacks. Alexis is good at winning the ball, but his offensive contributions sometimes also lack conviction as a result of using a lot of energy for defensive duties.
For Alexis to therefore put all of his energy and use on the pitch for attacking purposes, it makes our threat going forward a lot stronger. But are Arsenal better off with a player like Alexis up front, or on the wing?
In my opinion, as Arsenal now have two players in Alexis and Lucas, who can both either play as a striker or as a winger, I think it would be good for the pair to perhaps interchange, even so during matches. Both are capable of playing in either position and so when we play different styles of opposition, such as quicker centre backs, or stronger centre backs, we can alternate between the players to choose who is best fit to play against the opposition.
Should Alexis keep his striker role, or with Lucas and Giroud’s presence, should he be moved back out wide?