Alexis Sanchez has been involved in more goals than any other Premier League player this season and shouldn’t be lambasted for his outward displays of emotion. 14 goals and 7 assists in 21 league games is an outstanding return from a forward who was recently described as ‘jaded’ by Arsene Wenger due to the amount of work he’s putting into each match, with another two goals and three assists coming from his six Champions League outings. He is undoubtedly the best player in the English top flight right now and can easily go on to win the Golden Boot award at the end of the season.
As the Chilean scored his 14th goal of the season at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, another Sanchez anecdote made its way across social media courtesy of sports lawyer Ian Lynam, who claimed the 28-year-old was recommended to take the morning off and rest after being deemed in the “red zone”. It wasn’t long before they found Alexis in the gym apparently sprinting on the treadmill on maximum incline - wearing a weighted vest.
Those kind of stories can be heard week in, week out. It has become a running joke at London Colney as to how seriously Sanchez takes training and Alex Iwobi recently confirmed that his team-mate can be seen doing push-ups if there’s a break in one of the sessions.
“He comes out early. Everyone else is walking out to training and he’s just running out to training," Iwobi said.
“And when the coach is talking, he’s sometimes just there doing press-ups and you’re like “really?". But yeah, he works very hard in training.”
Many were quick to criticise the reaction of Sanchez after he hurled his gloves off and kicked them towards the advertising hoardings but there was nothing wrong with it. Outward displays of emotion are generally frowned upon in the Premier League and there seems to be a taboo on expressiveness unless a handshake and nod of the head are involved.
To put it bluntly, Alexis Sanchez isn’t British. As Wenger stated in his post-match press conference: “In every culture it's different.
"Some South Americans are a bit different to Europeans. Southern Europeans are more different to northern Europeans, you have to respect that”.
Alexis wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He’s a fiery Chilean who grew up playing football bare foot on the streets of Tocopilla. That type of openly-passionate character trait is commonplace in Mediterranean and South American countries in particular, where football represents a way to express yourself and show your true colours.
Why isn’t Sanchez allowed to be open with his feelings and show the kind of passion which has made him such a hit in the Premier League? That’s what makes him the player he is today and the game would be less entertaining without it. For some, it may come across childish but those close to the player realise how much staying on the pitch means to him - whether the team are four nil up or losing five nil. Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is an example of a player who rarely gets substituted because of his determination to play 90 minutes in every game, emphasising that the best players want to play every single minute.
As long as it doesn’t filter through and affect team morale then there shouldn’t be a fuss kicked up about it. Alexis’ team-mates clearly appreciate his endeavours on the pitch and understand the personality of the player. The hyperbolic nature of today’s social media centric society and dramatic reporting of individual events in sport and beyond can sometimes be misinterpreted and mislead those consuming it. Arsenal are blessed with one of the most talented players in world football at the club and his infectious work-rate and consistent form should be applauded even if his latest reaction has been taken out of context.
That context in question concerns those who believe Alexis is frustrated with life at the club and is looking for a way out before his contract expires next season. It's worth reminding that he reacted in an even worse fashion against Norwich at the end of last season where he stormed down the tunnel after being substituted. This is no longer a question of a player being criticised for an understandable reaction, it's instead bordering on a witch hunt towards a professional footballer who has acted impeccably during his two and a half years at the club.
"All players are frustrated when they come off - some show it, some don't. I am long enough in the job to know that", said Wenger after the game.
If anyone respects and understands a multitude of cultures then no-one is better placed to comment than Wenger. He has managed 209 first-team players throughout his 20 year tenure as Arsenal manager so far and he knows a bad egg when he sees one. Indeed, there may be a contract on the table which has yet to be signed, but there is no doubt that Alexis Sanchez is committed to Arsenal and his actions on the pitch prove that.