Having last won an EPL title back in the 2003-04 season, it is widely believed Arsene Wenger needs key additions to his squad in order to mount a realistic title challenge and end Arsenal’s title drought. And the storied manager has made some quality additions in recent seasons to make that possible.
From Ozil to Sanchez, Petr Cech, Xhaka and Mustafi, Wenger has strengthened every department of his squad. But questions have always been consistently raised about the striking department. The club’s 1st choice striker, Olivier Giroud, is seen as incapable of winning the league for Arsenal, and rightly so given that his highest ever league tally in 4 seasons at Emirates stopped at 16 goals.
In the EPL, strikers win the titles for their clubs, and a larger percentage of past winners have had a striker who broke the 20-goal barrier to do so. Arsenal have always sought for one, and the search continued until the last summer transfer window. Morata, Vardy, Cavani, and usual suspect Benzema were all linked with a possible switch to the Emirates, only for a certain and barely known Lucas Perez to arrive.
The Spaniard definitely isn’t the answer to Arsenal’s goalscoring problems, and it’s still clearly not Giroud. A late return from national team duties coupled with an injury has seen the France international play just 51 EPL minutes, with Alexis Sanchez mainly playing (892 minutes) in the role in his absence.
In 10 games across the EPL and Champions League competitions, Wenger has played the Chilean international as a makeshift centre-forward, and the results have been successful. For the first time in a long while, Arsenal have won 6 consecutive games, with Sanchez bagging 4 goals and 4 assists in them.
In the Champions League fixture against Ludogorets on Wednesday night, after getting Arsenal’s first goal, the 27-year-old up until the 2nd goal had been involved in all four of Arsenal’s Champions League goals this season with 2 goals and 2 assists. Sanchez, who is rated at €84.8 Million by the CIES Football Observatory, had a slow start to his life as the club’s central forward, but the winger could be on his way to becoming Arsenal’s next Thierry Henry.
4 – Alexis Sanchez has been involved in all four of Arsenal’s Champions League goals this season (2 goals, 2 assists). Master.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 19, 2016
Like Sanchez, the French legend started out on the wings, and his final season before coming to Arsenal saw him land just 3 goals in 16 Serie A appearances for Juventus. Prior to that, Henry’s highest league return was 9, in 36 Ligue 1 features for Monaco.
However, upon reuniting with Wenger at Arsenal, he was converted to a centre-forward to great success, with him landing 17 goals in 31 EPL appearances in the 1999-2000 term. 2 seasons later, he notched an impressive return of 24 league goals as Arsenal won their 2nd English Premier League title. Henry hit the peak after another 2 seasons, leading the club to a 3rd title with 30 league goals in 2003-04.
These were down to Henry’s change in position by Arsene Wenger, and history could repeat itself this season. This time, with Sanchez calling the shots. In just 7 league appearances, the back-to-back Copa America winner has scored 4 goals and assisted 3 others and is definitely doing better in the centre forward position than being on the wings.
Finally, the club has gotten a much-needed and desired goal machine on their hands, and they have had him all this while. All was needed was a permanent swap of positions, and if he continues with this form and in the new role, the title could be Arsenal’s to lose this season.