Alexis Sanchez was a free-scoring player at Arsenal, can he become that player at Manchester United?

Since joining Manchester United in January, Alexis Sánchez has endured a torrid time for the Red Devils and has looked a shadow of the player he was at Arsenal. Nonetheless, here’s why I think that as United fans we need to be patient.

When Sánchez signed for United in a swap deal with Arsenal in exchange for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, United fans across the world were euphoric. Sánchez chose to wear the illustrious number seven shirt worn by the likes of George Best, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Twenty-five appearances later, Sánchez has scored just four goals and created six assists and has only showed glimpses of what he is capable of. Many United fans, across social media were calling for Sánchez to be sold or for him to be dropped and replaced by either Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford. However, this is why I think United fans should be patient with Alexis Sánchez and give him some more time.

Sánchez has shown his quality in a few of his matches for Manchester United, most recently against Newcastle. He came on with just 23 minutes remaining and scored the deciding goal in a 3-2 victory for United. He was pivotal in United’s 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur to reach the final of the FA Cup and for United’s 2-3 win over their ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City creating two of the goals and had a heavy involvement in the other. Sánchez has also demonstrated his immense quality in the Premier League with small snippets, however, he hasn’t been consistent enough.

In both of the games against Tottenham and Manchester City, the midfield consisted of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, and Ander Herrera as well as Romelu Lukaku as the target man and Jesse Lingard on the right-wing. This is evidently the structure that Sánchez works best in.

Under Arsene Wenger, Sánchez was solely an attacker whereas under José Mourinho, Sánchez has a defensive job as well. His interceptions per game have tripled since joining United, now making 1.1 per game and he now makes 1.8 successful tackles per game since moving to Old Trafford.

Of course Sánchez has not been at his best. Before the match against Newcastle, Sánchez had not scored in 831 Premier League minutes, however, during his time at Arsenal, the longest he went without a goal was 897 minutes so it’s proven that he is able to bounce back from a rough patch and hit top form. As well as this, Sánchez has officially created four ‘big chances’ this season of which only one has been converted. If these chances were to have been converted, Sánchez would not be the main object of scorn.

Finally, Sánchez works extremely hard on the pitch covering lots of ground and tracking back. Personally, I think that now that Sánchez has scored his first goal of the 2018/19 season, this will give Sánchez the confidence to start playing similarly to the free-scoring striker that he was at Arsenal. I believe United should keep him in the starting line-up until January and then make a decision over him but for now, I think when he hits that form that United fans have been waiting for, he will be vital in Manchester United’s season.

Written by Nicky Helfgott

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