Why Alexis Sanchez declined so rapidly from his best form after leaving Arsenal

On this day in 2014 Alexis Sanchez scored his first goal for Arsenal.  It was his first of 60 in 122 games – a remarkable record.   If we just measure league games he got 24 in 38 in his last league season.  Even in the season in which he left half way through he got 7 goals in 19 league games.

But in the second half of the season he got 2 goals in 12 league games for Manchester United, and the following season one in 20 games.

Of course it could have been down to his decline as a player, but there is something else we might notice.  The figures Alexis achieved with Arsenal were considerably better than he achieved with any other clubs before he came to Arsenal or since.

So his decline might not be totally down to the player, but rather down to the fact that Mr Wenger knew how to use him and how to motivate him.  It might also in part be that Alexis began to believe it was totally down to his ability, and that when he moved to Manchester United they didn’t know how to look after him, in the way that Arsenal did.

It isn’t always the player – it can be his manager as well.


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“Making the Arsenal” is a journalist’s inside view of the events around Arsenal’s collapse in 1910 and the rescue that paved the way for the move to Highbury and the arrival of Herbert Chapman.

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Here are the anniversaries

27 August 1908: Newspaper talk shows Arsenal manager Morrell very satisfied with his team’s progress as they prepared for the first game of the season on 2 September.  Unfortunately Arsenal lost 0-4 at home to Everton.

27 August 1913    Arsenal played a practice match at The Den as the development work continued at Highbury ready for the first home game at the stadium on September 6.

27 August 1919: Joseph Toner joined from Belfast United for £200.  He was an occasional player in each of the years under Knighton’s management, but was soon moved on after Chapman arrived.

27 August 1920: Death of Hugh MacDonald.  He signed for Arsenal on three separate occasions (not a record but still remarkable) retiring from football finally in 1913. 

27 August 1921: The Third Division North played its first matches.  In the first minute on the first day of the first season ex Arsenal man Tommy Winship crossed for Darlington to score the first ever goal in the league.

27 August 1921: Arsenal opened the season with a 2-1 home defeat to Sheffield United.  After the game four players were dropped for the second match – which Arsenal then lost to Preston North End.

27 August 1923: Samsen Haden made his Arsenal debut.  He went on to play 88 games for the club all told.

27 August 1927: Not everything worked perfectly under Chapman.  Bury 5 Arsenal 1 on the opening day of the first division campaign was one such failure.  However Arsenal won the next two games 4-1 and 6-1 and went on to play in the FA Cup final for the first time.

27 August 1928: The Monday newspapers deemed the numbered shirts experiment “a success”  and predicted wider use.

27 August 1932: The run of three consecutive league championships began with Birmingham 0 Arsenal 1.  The first goal of this unique Arsenal run was scored by Reg Stockill in his first match.  He only played four games in the season – but scored three goals.

27 August 1974: Ipswich Town 3 Arsenal 0, with 28,036 in attendance. The press could not stop praising Ipswich who went to the top of the league after 2 games with this win.

27 August 1938: Bryn Jones scored on his debut against Portsmouth.  He scored three in his first four games, but then only scored one more during the whole season in which he played 30 games.

27 August 1988: Steve Bould league debut for Arsenal in 5-1 the away defeat of Wimbledon in the opening fixture of the campaign.  Smith got 3 – the only hattrick all season.

27 August 1997: The definitive Bergkamp hat trick at Leicester in a 3-3 draw in the 4th league game of the 2nd Double Season   It was the first hattrick under Arsène Wenger. The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.

27 August 2002: Arsenal beat WBA 5-2, continuing the average of five or more goals every 20 games under Arsene Wenger.  Cole, Lauren, Wiltord (2) and Aliadière scored.  But it was the first 5 goals since Boxing Day 2000.

27 August 2003: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 0.  The 3rd league match of the unbeaten season and the third straight win.  Campbell and Henry scored to make it 8 goals for 1 against thus far.

27 August 2008: Arsenal qualified for the Champions League group stages.  Samir Nasri made his debut, marked with a goal in 4-0 win over Twente.  Gallas, Walcott and Bendtner scored the others to make it 6-0 overall.

27 August 2009: Jay Simpson loaned to QPR.  He went on to play 39 times for them and scored 12 goals.

27 August 2013.  Arsenal beat Fenerbahçe in the Champions League play off in front of 56,271 – the lowest crowd of the season.  

27 August 2014: Alexis Sanchez scored his first goal for Arsenal as the club beat Besitkas 1-0 in the play off round of the Champions League.

27 August 2016: Arsenal beat Watford 3-1 away to secure their first win of the season.  It was the first of six consecutive league wins, and the start of a run of 10 wins and three draws in 13 consecutive league games during which Arsenal scored 30 goals.

6 Replies to “Why Alexis Sanchez declined so rapidly from his best form after leaving Arsenal”

  1. I learnt more from this post of yours than I did in past few years of being an Arsenal fan.

  2. During his last season with Arsenal,Sanchez only played very well twice, against Everton and WBA away.The warning signs were clear to anyone with a degree of football knowledge,in that he is on the way down.As it is he has turned out to be abused flush and sadly he will never regain his former glory.

  3. Very short article offering little actual reasons for the decline . Not sure why you wrote it.

  4. Just my opinion.
    When Chile was eliminated from the World Cup 2014 (first knockout stage match vs Brasil on PENS)– Sanchez’s career-arc was irreparable. All had aligned so perfectly over the span of many years– then truncated. The disappointment became palpable over the next season (or so it seemed to me). Alexis began the transition from unstoppable dynamo– to arm-waving, glaring, assigner of blame.

    Late 2016 and early 2017, whenever Sanchez cut inside for his trademark inverted-winger strikes? PL defenses began sending their RCB forward to meet him top-of-box. In Pavlovian fashion, Alexis would continue across the pitch almost never passing to create– then to back-pass in frustration. Whatever physical edge it was that allowed him to pull rabbits-from-hats? That spark of quickness that was unpredictable for so long? Was first found out defensively, then, began to fade from his set of tools just over, and onto the other side of his peak.

    Alexis Sanchez is still a drama. Not quite yet a tragedy. But close.


  5. I think that he became so full of himself after a great start for Arsenal. It was initially quite refreshing seeing him gee up our players , and encouraging them to chase , harry and get back the ball , and move forward.
    Later on it was more of arm waving, disgusted stares and outright petulance when the ball was not ‘conducted’ through him.
    More especially as he began to have too many poor games at a consistent rate.

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