Alexis Sanchez was hours away from joining Manchester City on transfer deadline day this summer but his careless and lethargic display against Pep Guardiola’s side on Sunday afternoon showed that Arsenal are better off without their so-called star player.
The Citizens are title favourites for a reason and the Chilean talisman would have known that as he weighed up his transfer options. With his contract expiring next year, joining the champions-elect was a decision which made plenty of sense – yet Arsenal’s failure to secure the signing of Thomas Lemar meant that Sanchez was forced to stay put until January at least.
Since the move fell through, his body language has often been poor – as has been the perceived lack of effort he has put into some matches.
This was again on show during Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City as the 28-year-old was nothing short of abject throughout.
"I felt in the difficult moment of the game he did very well," said Wenger after the game.
"He was sharp but didn't have enough support. I felt he gave everything. It was a huge mental test but I had no doubt about him before the game. He wants to win."
The same could also be said for most of his team-mates as Arsenal once again capitulated against a top six team. Wenger’s side have won only two of their last 27 Premier League away matches against clubs that finished in the top six last season (D8, L17) – a statistic which not only makes for grim reading but also shows how far Arsenal have slipped away from the elite of English football.
Alexis was Arsenal’s best player by far last season, scoring 30 goals and producing 15 assists. He is always capable of producing a piece of magic when you least expect it but his desire to leave north London for Manchester looks like it is affecting his performances.
Wastefulness in possession is nothing new when it comes to Sanchez and it was certainly expected when you consider that he was ploughing a lone furrow up front on Sunday against the best team in the country. However, he lost the ball more than any other player on the pitch and was culpable for City’s third goal, even if it did appear to be offside.
"Top class player. Very competitive. As a striker he was our main headache in the first half. He's a really good player," said Guardiola after the game, making it clear that he's still pining for the Chilean.
Arsenal are better off recouping some of the £35 million they paid for Sanchez three years ago instead of keeping him until his contract expires next summer.
Of course, the Gunners would be better off selling him to a foreign team rather than a domestic rival but can the capital side really place themselves in the same bracket as City, Manchester United and last season’s Premier League champions Chelsea?
Wenger will undoubtedly look to blame the officials for decisions which he feels didn’t go Arsenal’s way against City. But the facts remain there for everyone to see. Arsenal are no longer good enough to beat a direct domestic rival and that is something Alexis would have realised throughout last season.
El Nino Maravilla sought a new challenge in the summer and Arsenal should do the same by letting him go and signing a replacement as soon as possible. Alexis has outgrown Arsenal and his presence at the club is now only harming Wenger’s squad.