The recent history of Alexis Sanchez’s Arsenal career has been uncomfortable viewing for Gunners supporters.
This is not because they have seen their best player become alarmingly disgruntled at the club, nor is it because he now looks certain to leave this summer. It is the very fact that it’s hard to find fault with his position.
Sanchez is by far and away Arsenal’s best player. He has scored over double the amount of league goals as the second highest scorer on the team, Theo Walcott. He brings to the pitch a spark, an energy which was totally in absentia during the first half at Anfield on Saturday.
He has a deep burning desire to win, and it is surely alarming to the Emirates faithful how much he stands out simply for possessing such drive.
Wenger has long commanded the respect of the club’s legends. They have often defended him to the hilt, despite the long-standing mediocrity which has become emblematic of the club.
The Sanchez situation is different, however. When Jamie Vardy refused to join the club during the summer there was a simmering suspicion that he feared joining a club which had become comfortable with not winning trophies. Sanchez now offers proof of that theory.
Arsenal players enjoy a plush lifestyle. They earn handsome wages in one of Europe’s premier cities and even enjoy the odd (although not too many) Champions League outings each season. Far be it from them to become embroiled in something as stressful, as inconvenient, as a title race.
The culture as Arsenal is unrecognisable from what it was in the past, and the club’s former luminaries don’t like it.
Ian Wright is the latest to voice his outrage. He is quoted (via the BBC) as saying:
“If I was him, I’d probably want to leave as well because what’s happening with Arsenal right now is not what he came to Arsenal for, especially not being in the top four.
“It’s a shame simply because he is Arsenal’s best player. He is a player that Arsenal need desperately to be there.
“I’m not sure if money is going to keep him there at the moment because if he’s storming out of training and not playing in games… it doesn’t seem to be a problem for him when he does come on because he still performs to the best of his ability.”
The assumption that money would not be enough to keep him at Arsenal is indeed accurate. Arsenal supporters, even their manager, have long blamed ‘financial doping’ for their inability to compete at the top level.
They shelled out an inordinate sum to build a new stadium just as the importance of ticket sales began to pale into insignificance, just as TV money sky-rocketed and the importance of ‘sugar-daddy’ owners became paramount. But money can’t be used any longer as a ‘one size fits all’ excuse for Arsenal’s woes.
The north London side don’t win because their players aren’t even bothered to try. And no amount of money can solve that.
Colm Egan, Pundit Arena
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