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Alexis from the Bench

Isaac Lundall Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Alexis Sanchez was a substitute in Chile's two goal victory over New Zealand in their opening Confederations Cup match. He soon influenced the match, crossing immaculately for Arturo Vidal's headed goal, and later breaking the offside trap, with his blocked shot setting up Eduardo Vargas who added a second. It is quite likely that Sanchez would have started the match had he not being carrying a slight ankle injury, but his effectiveness as an impact substitute is interesting to note.

Alexis is the sort of world class player who you start when he is fit and available. Starting him on the Arsenal bench would be akin to starting Cristiano Ronaldo on the Real Madrid bench. There is case to be made for using him as an impact substitute in certain situations though. The Arsenal will play in four major competitions this season, namely the Barclays Premier League, the Europa League, the F A Cup, and the League Cup. Although "the next game" is always the priority, the priority for the season is the Barclays Premier League. The League Cup is traditionally used to blood young players, so Alexis is usually rested. If he could be benched in some F A Cup and Europa League matches, being used as an impact substitute, his energy, invention, and killer instinct in front of goal could be a shock to the opposition, especially entering the phase of the game when players are starting to tire.

Another reason to start Alexis on the bench is tactics. Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck do not often get a chance to play together, but Arsenal could play with two strikers from time to time. This is especially the case against relegation contenders who tend to get men behind the ball and close down the space that the Arsenal's passing game feeds on. Tony Pulis has frustrated our players time after time in this fashion. The option of crossing in balls for two strikers who are both strong in the air is a tactic that could be explored against such setups.

Finally, giving more opportunities to younger players like Alex Iwobi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who both showed promising form last season will spur on their development and augur well for the future of the club.

© 2017, Isaac Lundall