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Why Manchester United supporters should keep faith in Alexis Sanchez.

Alexis Sanchez first arrived at Manchester United from Arsenal in the January transfer window, in a swap deal that has seen Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way. The signing created a huge buzz around Old Trafford, with fans delighted with the signing of one of the Premier Leagues biggest stars. However, in his first four months at the club, Sanchez has not fully lived up to expectations and has struggled for consistency.

Despite looking bright in his United debut against league two side Yeovil Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup, Sanchez really struggled for form in the following nine games, managing only one  goal and assist, and with the exception of a man of the match performance against Huddersfield in the Premier League, looked fatigued and completely of the pace.

Speaking to the Chilean media during in the international break back in March, Sanchez himself admitted that his form hadn’t been good enough, explaining that the midseason move had been difficult and even admitting he had considered sitting out of Chile’s friendly against Sweden, saying:

“As I am self-demanding, I expected something better. After my arrival at United, it was hard to change everything very quickly. I even hesitated to come here.”

Following on from the international break, the Old Trafford faithful were rewarded with a significant increase in form from the 29-year-old with Sanchez finally starting to show his true abilities. Putting in a Man of the Match performance against Swansea City, where he picked up a goal and an assist. Before putting in a great performance against Manchester City, a week later grabbing two assists as United battled back from two goals down to beat City 3-2 and delay their title celebrations. Sanchez also popped up to score a vital header at Wembley, as United beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the FA

Before putting in a great performance against Manchester City, a week later grabbing two assists as United battled back from two goals down to beat City 3-2 and delay their title celebrations. Sanchez also popped up to score a vital header at Wembley, as United beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final.

Though Sanchez’s form has begun to tail off again in his last two appearances for the club, though the same thing can be said about the squad as a whole with the side putting in lacklustre performances in recent weeks.

After missing last week’s game against Brighton and Hove Albion through injury, Sanchez was back in the squad on Thursday Night as Manchester United drew 0-0 West Ham United. With top scorer Romelu Lukaku still out with an ankle injury, Sanchez led the line for United playing as a striker. Yet despite looking lively both on and off the ball, the 29-year-old struggled to make a real impact on the game, managing only one shot on target and often dropping too deep in to the midfield.

Sanchez was moved back to the left wing on Sunday, for United’s final Premier League game of the season against Watford. However much like his performance against West Ham mid-week struggled to make a real impact on the game.

Despite glimpses of the real Alexis Sanchez shining through at times since arriving at the club, it’s clear that the 29-year-old has had a mixed start to his United career and has at times struggled for consistency. In 12 Premier league appearances, Sanchez has averaged 1.6 shots per game, 3.7 dribbles per game and 2.2 key passes per game and has average match rating of 7.56, 0.23% higher than it was at Arsenal.

These are clearly not the sort of statistics one would associate with a world class player like Sanchez, but it was never going to be easy for him to switch clubs in January, a move which was made even harder by speculation and criticism from parts of media about the size of his wages. Yet fans should not be disheartened and should keep the faith as it’s evident that Sanchez has both the ability and mentality to play for a club as big as Manchester United.

Plus, with Chile missing out on the FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer, Sanchez will have plenty of time to properly rest after a hectic year and, with a good pre-season behind him, he can kick on and be a key player for United, not only next season but for many seasons to come.

Written by Jamie Mackinlay

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