Defining and pinpointing Alexis Sanchez isn’t always easy. Should he play as a striker? Is he best coming off of the wings? Does the playmaker role suit him best? These are all questions that are tough to answer, but the latest round of stats released show Sanchez is equally adept in all positions.
“I like the fact he can play left, right, up front, and that’s why I went for him,” said Arsene Wenger in the summer and the Arsenal boss has been true to his word. Having scored goals as a centre forward this season, Sanchez’s brace against Stoke came from the left. But there’s much more to his versatility than that. He is probably Arsenal’s hardest working player and given a sniff at goal will often deliver.
With the likes of Santi Cazorla in good form, it would be wrong to call Arsenal a one-man team. But while there have been players who overshadow their team-mates through force of personality, weight of goals, presence on the pitch or as a creative fulcrum, few do the lot quite like Sanchez. He has carried the team on his shoulders many times this season, with many within the Emirates worried that his performances might entice Chelsea or Manchester City into a swoop this summer.
The statistics are extraordinary. He’s the Premier League’s fourth-highest goalscorer behind Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa and Charlie Austin. But, it’s his creativity that really marks Sanchez as one of the World’s greatest. In total he has created 57 chances this season, with 7 assists, second only to Cesc Fabregas.
In terms of most goals involved in, Sanchez comes out on top, having been an integral part in 19 of Arsenal’s goals this season.
He has also made more tackles and interceptions than the other three highest goalscorers in the Premier League combined. In fact, of the 30 players to score five goals or more, only Mile Jedinak has made more tackles or interceptions – and the Crystal Palace midfielder’s tally of five includes three penalties. No forward in the country has made more tackles than Sanchez.
“Forget the ability he has got,” said opposing manager Steve Bruce of that effort. “The work rate and effort and endeavour he puts in – there was no sign of him being tired.” Indeed, the statistics show that Sanchez has taken defending from the front to new levels.
Jamie Carragher was magnanimous in his praise for the Chilean, putting him well ahead of his team-mate Mesut Ozil for ‘ability and adaptation to the English game’. In terms of the ‘all round’ footballer, Alexis Sanchez is possibly the closest thing you will get in the Premier League.