The £35m signing will make the Gunners much more able to vary their tactics.
Despite topping the Premier League for more days than any other side in 2013/14, Arsenal once again finished fourth when the season finished.
As impressive as qualifying for the Champions League for 17 consecutive years is (only Real Madrid have been more consistent in that respect) the fans want to see their team challenging for the title once more.
Manager Arsene Wenger admitted once the campaign had finished that too much reliance was put upon striker Olivier Giroud in attack:
“Maybe we have over-played him at some stage,” Wenger was quoted by Sky Sports back in May.
“There is perhaps room for an attacking player who can play in a different position to Giroud. Someone who can play with him as well.”
Since then the 64-year-old has kept to his word and secured the £35m signing of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, to either support Giroud in attack or act as direct competition.
Sanchez brings a whole new attacking aspect to the Gunners and draws them away from the one-dimensional 4-2-3-1 approach that the team adopted last term.
As solid as Giroud is in attack – and the France international proved many doubters wrong last campaign with 16 league goals – the 27-year-old is not versatile.
The North Londoners could not break out of the rigidity of the only formation that could accommodate the players they had at their disposal over the past 12 months and the arrival of Sanchez will also help stars such as Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey.
“He can play through the middle, he can play on both flanks and he has the qualities that I think are needed in England,” Wenger told the club’s website.
“At the moment he might play on the flank because Walcott is injured. As well [he can play] through the middle in some games; we can play with Giroud, we can play without Giroud in a 4-4-2 or in a 4-3-3.”
At Barca the tactics in attack understandably revolve around Lionel Messi and as such Sanchez had to operate from the right flank – an area where he flourished, scoring 19 La Liga goals and providing 10 assists last season.
Now at the Emirates Stadium, the attacking tactics will centre on the Chile international instead, with his ability to play through the middle or on either flank a huge bonus.
In a more attacking mode, perhaps against the supposedly smaller teams in the English top tier, the combination of Sanchez, Giroud and Walcott in attack – supported by Ozil and Ramsey – will be hard to resist.
In this respect the South American operates more centrally, with his mobility complimenting his striking partner’s physicality and strength.
Walcott or Lukas Podolski could also play up alongside Sanchez in this 4-4-2 formation, with Santi Cazorla drafted in on one of the flanks.
In essence the lack of options Wenger suffered last term should be eradicated by the simple addition of one world-class Chilean and the other title contenders should be wary of this.
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