Alexis Sanchez suggested he had spoken to Thierry Henry before joining Manchester United and referred to leaving Arsenal for the ‘same reasons’ that the Frenchman joined Barcelona.
Henry was the same age as Sanchez when he decided to leave the Emirates and left for one thing – trophies. Within two years at the Camp Nou he had won five including La Liga and the Champions League.
Nobody could question Henry’s motives for leaving and he left with Arsenal fans’ blessing but Sanchez was not afforded such niceties and his Premier League debut for Manchester United vindicated many of the question marks that were raised about his move to Old Trafford.
Sanchez spoke of his desire to win trophies after joining the ‘biggest club in the world’ but a humbling 2-0 defeat to Tottenham has erased much of the fanfare over the forward’s move and is likely to have given the Chilean a reality check.
It would be redundant to make conclusions about the system based on one half of football but it was telling that Mourinho switched Sanchez at half-time from his flank position into the middle and put Martial back to his favoured left side.
United improved slightly after the break with Sanchez in the middle but little could be done to stop a rampaging Spurs side.
With nobody of Mesut Ozil’s ilk at Old Trafford his long-term future could be in the middle.
Isolation on the flank
Sanchez is in all-action forward who wants to be on the ball as much as possible. Spurs dominated the first-half from kick-off and Sanchez was visibly disgruntled out wide as United failed to feed him passes from midfield.
Sanchez failed to complete a dribble, had zero shots on target and had an 80% passing accuracy during the first-half.
Alexis Sanchez’s record against Tottenham for Arsenal Played: 8 Won: 3 Drawn: 4 Lost: 1 Goals: 2 Assists: 0
The Chilean looked far happier after moving inside where he was able to have a greater influence on play and it was no coincidence that United had a greater grasp on the game with Sanchez getting more involved.
Link-up play with Lingard
After an awful start following Eriksen’s goal, United actually displayed some decent play going forward.
LIngard has been United’s main man since coming into the side in late November and few players in Mourinho’s squad posses the midfielder’s ability to play one-touch football in tight areas like he does, One pleasing aspect – perhaps on refection for Mourinho – will be that Sanchez showed a good understanding with Lingard and the pair dovetailed well throughout.
Mourinho must work out how to get the best out of Sanchez Sanchez’s signing is undoubtedly a coup for United. Fans will respond to his spirted performances and United haven’t had a stellar no.7 since the days of Cristiano Ronaldo. Results elsewhere mean United remain in second but any slim hopes of catching City are all but gone.
United are still alive in two competitions but Mourinho most solve the problem of where Sanchez is going to fit in before a Champions League last-16 tie against Sevilla.
The FA Cup looks United’s most likely piece of silverware this season and Sanchez will have to get firing soon if he’s to prove the detractors wrong that move to United was motivated by money.