It was the culmination of so many bad occurrences for Arsenal as they were comprehensively spanked 5-1 by German champions Bayern Munich. But matters off the pitch have become far more important, with the future of Alexis Sanchez under huge scrutiny.
After Sanchez was taken off in the second-half, the camera showed the Chilean on the bench, and it picked up something that will worry Arsenal fans hugely:
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) March 7, 2017
Of course, we cannot rule out the fact that Sanchez may have been laughing at a hilarious ‘knock-knock’ joke Petr Cech had just told him; nevertheless, his actions will worry the fans.
In recent weeks, there have been a lot of rumours surrounding his future, with his annoyance at Arsenal’s 3-3 draw with Bournemouth, and the fact he was left on the bench against Liverpool in their 3-1 defeat all adding to a story that is gaining momentum. On top of this, Arsenal are now running out of competitions to win trophies in, having been knocked out of the Champions League, languishing a long way behind Chelsea in the Premier League and seeing rivals Manchester United lift the EFL Cup mere weeks ago.
All of this, along with the fact that Sanchez is a natural born winner, means that it seems likely he will be running on the grass of a different stadium come next season. If Sanchez were to leave, then it will be the departure of the only truly world-class player from the Emirates. Of course, there are some very talented players at Arsenal, but none are in the ‘world-class’ bracket, while Mesut Ozil’s propensity to go missing in big games means that he cannot truly be regarded in the same bracket as Sanchez.
With Arsenal in such a fragile state at the moment, Sanchez will be the last of this status as a player at Arsenal for a number of years, especially if Wenger is to lose his job this summer. The loss of both player and manager could see a very similar story to what happened at Manchester United post Sir Alex Ferguson, with the team quickly moving through two managers before they settled on Jose Mourinho. This could mean that Arsenal will lose their preferred place as the fourth placed bridesmaid.
However, Sanchez has not been totally blameless in this situation, with the forward suffering from a mid-season slump in form. The forward, who many tout as one of the most hardworking players in the league, has been guilty of perhaps not pulling his weight lately:
— Lewis (@LGAmbrose) March 8, 2017
The stats do not make for pretty reading for Sanchez, with the Chilean not running above 10km in any of his last 20 games. The much maligned Ozil, who many see as a lazy player has run above 10km in 14 of the 16 matches he has completed 90 minutes in. While it could be cited that Sanchez has not run as much because he has been up-front, Olivier Giroud as run above 10km in all three of the matches he has played 90 minutes in. Apparently Sanchez isn’t trying as hard as Ozil, something I thought I would never say.
What now for Sanchez? Well, a number of teams have been linked with the forward who could command a huge transfer fee due to the level he is currently playing at. With 17 goals and nine assists in the Premier League, he would make an invaluable player for most sides in the world, with only Real Madrid and Barcelona realistically able to say he would not immediately displace their current forwards.
If Sanchez is to leave though, what would it mean for Arsenal? For the Gunners, it is an all too familiar story. Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, and Samir Nasri all left prematurely, leaving Arsenal with a huge hole in their team. However, they always managed to replace the players that left in some way, but it may prove a player too far this time as Sanchez’s exit will see the Chilean be the last world-class player at the Emirates for some time.
We highly doubt any Arsenal players will be making Alexis’s all-time XI…