Whereas the drawn-out nature of last summer’s reinforcements left fans angry come the start of the Premier League season, Arsenal raised hopes early with the post-World Cup acquisition of Alexis Sanchez.
Signed from Barcelona as the Catalans made room for former Gunners target Luis Suarez, the Chile international will have much expected of him, slotting in straight away as Arsene Wenger’s most talented forward.
Alexis made his competitive debut for the club in their Community Shield victory over Manchester City on Sunday – Goal examines how he got on and his prospects for the season and years ahead.
PERFORMANCE AGAINST MANCHESTER CITY
It was just a 45-minute debut for Alexis as he started but came off at half-time, with Arsenal already 2-0 up against the reigning league champions.
While the £37 million man did not score or register an assist, fans will have been pleased with his bright start as part of a strong unit, with Wenger’s side impressive across the board.
Stationed on the right flank, Alexis made some daring pushes forward and drifted inside where necessary to open up passing angles for his team-mates, while also displaying once or twice his strength to hold up the ball when building counterattacks.
Most encouragingly, he appeared quite at home with the Gunners’ overall approach and Wenger should not have to worry too much about him requiring a lengthy adaptation period.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Alexis’s move to the Emirates Stadium should be something of a statement for both player and club. Underappreciated by Barcelona, the Chilean is ready to be top dog at a top team and the Gunners should be only too happy to indulge.
In the long term, he will likely become their No.1 centre forward – despite the promise shown by Yaya Sanogo at Wembley and Olivier Giroud’s reasonable scoring record – but, for the time being, he will continue on the right while Theo Walcott continues his steady return to fitness.
With a move – and a fee – so big, there will be pressure on Alexis to deliver regularly. If he gels and Wenger builds the team properly around him, his spell in north London could propel him close to the very top of the game on an individual level.
A GOOD SEASON WOULD BE…
Continuing the pattern set by Sunday’s triumph. Arsenal, for the first time in a little while, have momentum behind them coming into a season and some kind of trophy to follow up last term’s FA Cup would reinforce their status as a big club on the up.
Any glory in 2014-15 is likely to heavily involve Alexis and Wenger will need him to settle in quickly, something that looks like being the case after his 45-minute effort at Wembley.
Be it up front or on the right flank, the Gunners will be looking for goals from their new man, plain and simple. Between scoring and assisting, a total of at least around 20-25 would surely be required from a player of his importance and skill if Arsenal are to achieve their aims in what looks likely to be a real fight for the top four places.