Sanchez scored 19 goals in 34 La Liga appearances last season, but has been allowed to leave the Nou Camp in order to make way for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.
The Chile international, who impressed for his country at the World Cup, is likely to feature from either the left of midfield or as a central striker for Arsene Wenger’s team and is the club’s second most expensive signing in history after club-record signing Mesut Ozil.
The arrival of Sanchez will bring much-needed pace to the team, as well as an additional attacking threat.
Here are three Arsenal players that will benefit from the arrival of Sanchez at the Emirates.
As the season progressed – and Ozil’s form dropped – the argument that he needs to be surrounded by pace in order to best function gained increasing traction.
At Real Madrid he was the creative catalyst to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2012/13 form, with the Portuguese forward ready to run in behind defences almost as soon as Ozil got the ball, and with Sanchez he can do the same.
Arsenal’s lack of pace in the second half of last season allowed defences to push up higher safe in the knowledge that Olivier Giroud was not going to run in behind, subsequently squeezing Ozil’s space and robbing him of options.
Sanchez and the return of Walcott will make teams think twice before squeezing Arsenal high up the pitch, giving Ozil more space and the pacey targets to aim for.
In the six games that both he and Walcott started last season Ozil created 20 chances including three assists – one third of his season’s total – assisting at a rate of one every 176 minutes to one every 268 minutes over the games that Ozil started but Walcott did not.
Alongside Ozil, Walcott will also benefit from the introduction of a fellow speed-merchant into the side. Going forward, the pair can be expected to be lethal on the break, while pace from the left as well as the right would reduce the ability of teams to double up on and make specific plans for dealing with Walcott’s speed.
Sanchez may have operated from the right for Barcelona last season, but is likely to find himself central or left for Arsenal and will provide the pacey outlet on that flank that has been lacking in recent years, making him a perfect foil to Walcott. Both men have pace, can create chances and possess an eye for goal and in tandem can wreak havoc on opposition defences.
Throw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain into the equation and the lack of pace that plagued the team at times last season is long gone.
The final selection may appear a strange one, given that attacking reinforcements are likely to see Giroud play less and that Sanchez has been mooted as a possible central-striker, but as a pragmatist Sanchez is probably the best headline signing that Giroud could hope for.
Arsenal were always likely to sign a marquee forward this summer and the fact that it is a predominantly wide one is a better outcome for Giroud than a headline central-striker, with Sanchez providing cover centrally rather than being a replacement.
Giroud also fits into the camp of playing better with pace around him, having hardly been blessed with speed himself. With Sanchez and Walcott from wide areas Giroud has space within which to utilise his skill at holding the ball up and picking out a team-mate, while Sanchez’s pace is also likely to lead to more chances for Giroud from wide areas.
- Sports & Recreation
- Alexis Sanchez
- Olivier Giroud
- Mesut Ozil
- Arsene Wenger