LONDON – After Alexis Sanchez made it 2-0 to Arsenal against Stoke City with a fine solo goal, the TV cameras cut to Arsenal legends Thierry Henry and Robert Pires watching on from an executive box in the stands.
[ RELATED: Three things we learned ]
Henry’s expression was one of amazement, as Sanchez’s stunning season continued as he scored two goals and made the other with a sumptuous cross in Arsenal’s 3-0 drubbing of the Potters.
The Chilean winger has now assisted or scored 19 Premier League goals this season, that’s more than any other player in the league. His importance to Arsenal is not lost on Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
“Alexis Sanchez is one of the best players,” Wenger said. “He’s a fighter with a combination of talent and fighting spirit which is very difficult to find. He plays with passion and you want people to enjoy what they’re doing on the pitch and show it as well.”
[ RELATED: Analyzing the relegation picture ]
Wenger also hailed the overall performance of his team, as the likes of Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud linked up with Sanchez to create a wonderful attacking quartet, as their movement bamboozled their opponents.
With the win Arsenal moved into fifth place and put themselves well in the hunt for a top three finish with a comfortable and combative win over a lackluster Stoke side who failed to contain Sanchez.
“The better the team plays, the more involved he [Sanchez] is in the game,” Wenger said. “Because we attacked a lot and were a very offensive team today. He is confident and I think with Giroud, you can be direct with him. He can run at people a bit more, so there is a good combination there.”
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Since arriving from Barcelona for $45 million in the summer, Sanchez has slotted right into the Premier League with his pace and power wonderful assets. He is, in many respects, the perfect modern player. His balance and poise around the box (which you saw for his first goal) coupled with his pace, strength and determination to succeed mean he is a fan favorite at the Emirates. Sanchez is also a firm favorite among his teammates.
“Alexis is amazing and he shows it week in week out, that’s the most important thing,”Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain beamed afterwards.
His consistency, class and end product mean Sanchez is fast becoming one of the hottest properties on the planet. With Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil returning from injury, plus Danny Welbeck still to come back, Arsenal’s offensive juggernaut will soon be in full operation mode. But there’s no doubt over who is the driving force.
[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]
Despite only arriving at the Emirates this summer, the 26-year-old forward will be a man in demand when the summer transfer window comes around. If Arsenal are not in the UEFA Champions League next season, expect Alexis to be on his way for a healthy profit. But if his heroics continue, the Chilean will likely drive the Gunners into the top four as his star continues to rise.