Versatile Sanchez gives Arsenal plethora of options

The Rio Report

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Arsenal have made a statement of intent ahead of the new season with the signing of Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez in a deal that surpasses all previous fees paid out by the Gunners bar last season's club-record signing of Mesut Ozil.

[RAGS TO RICHES: THE ALEXIS SANCHEZ STORY]

Sanchez impressed for Chile at the World Cup, having scored 19 league goals last season, but became a casualty of Luis Suarez's likely arrival at Barcelona, prompting his move to the Emirates.

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The Chile international played on the right of a forward three for Barcelona last season, but can also play on the left and - as seems par for the course with wingers signed by Arsene Wenger over the years. Sanchez could also be a contender for the central striking berth currently held by Olivier Giroud.

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Gunners boss Wenger has proven meticulous in getting the balance of his squad right this summer, passing up the chance to re-sign Cesc Fabregas due to the plethora of midfield players, and has prioritised Sanchez as his big money buy. But where will he fit in at the club and how does he compare to the current crop of players?

No Arsenal player scored more league goals than Sanchez last season, with the Chile international's tally of 19 three more than top scorer Giroud. Sanchez's goals largely came from the right-hand side of midfield, but he will have to dislodge Theo Walcott if he is to replicate that role at Arsenal.

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Walcott is likely to miss the start of the season due to the cruciate ligament injury picked up in the FA Cup win over Tottenham, but is likely to be the most secure of Arsenal's widemen and lone forward.

The Englishman created more chances per 90 minutes last season than any of his contenders in wide positions, as well as providing chances of sufficient quality to be netted, with Walcott also leading the assists per 90 minutes metric ahead of Sanchez in second.

Walcott's run of goalscoring form also gave him a credible 0.52 goals per 90 minutes, although this did not prove enough to beat Sanchez in the same measure. The Chilean netted 0.72 goals per 90 minute period, putting him ahead of second-placed Lukas Podolski - no mean feat given the German's reputation forged upon doing little else but scoring.

Should he start in a wide role, Sanchez is most likely to take the left-hand berth shared by Podolski and Santi Cazorla last season. The 25-year-old scored and assisted more frequently than both rivals last season and gives Podolski in particular reason to be fearful.

Sanchez's direct style means that he completed fewer passes than any of the Arsenal wide quartet bar Walcott, with Cazorla providing Wenger with a ball playing alternative to Sanchez's pace and power from the left next season.

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That pace and power has been evident at the World Cup, where Sanchez has completed 22 take-ons, at a success rate of 65%. He has averaged 4.99 per 90 minutes at the World Cup, although managed just 1.36 at Barca, to dwarf the highest total at Arsenal, Oxlade-Chamberlain's 3.54 per 90.

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The versatility of Sanchez also means that Arsenal fans are likely to see their new signing up front at times over the season. As he does with Cazorla on the left, Sanchez's style provides an alternative to Giroud's strengths. He has scored more and completed more take-ons than Giroud, while creating more than both Giroud and Joel Campbell.

Between them, Giroud and Sanchez cover almost all skills, with Sanchez's pace and ability to run with the ball in stark contrast to Giroud's holdup play and aerial strength.

As you would expect for the fee involved, Sanchez will move straight to the upper echelons of Arsenal's forward play should he maintain his form from last season. A viable option from both flanks and up front, Sanchez's versatility also gives Wenger the luxury of being able to tailor his attack around his opponents and will prove a key weapon in the Gunners' Arsenal as they look to secure that elusive Premier League title.

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