Feliz Domingo Gooners. Arsenal’s pre-season preparations officially start tomorrow but one man who definitely won’t be participating is Alexis Sanchez, after he ended his marathon 2014-15 campaign in style, scoring the winning penalty for hosts Chile in last night’s Copa America final penalty shootout.
After a goalless 120 minutes, Argentina missed two of their first three penalties, with first Gonzalo Higuain and then Ever Banega bottling it, allowing Sanchez the chance to win the first major title in his nation’s history. And oh my did he take that chance with aplomb. The former Barcelona man stepped up and produced a sort of mini panenka – like a panenka, but with less lift – before wheeling away to start his country’s wild celebrations. Brave, beautiful stuff.
A well deserved beach break now surely awaits our magical number seventeen, although given his insatiable hunger for the game, it will take the very best of Arsene Wenger’s managerial man-management, to keep the 26 year old from returning early, ready to run his socks off for another club campaign. You rest up Alexis. Mesut and Santi have got Chelsea at Wembley covered.
One final point on the Copa America is that it takes place again next summer due to it being the competition’s centenary year. That means Sanchez will have played in international tournaments for three consecutive summers leading up to the start of the 2016-2017 season with Arsenal.
What is a worry over burn-out right now, will be a certainty by then if he is not afforded the proper rest. Perhaps Wellington Silva can step up and inject some silky south American skills to the Arsenal attack in Sanchez’s absence. It’s not as silly as it sounds – Silva’s got mad ‘bilities on the ball. And as his recent loan spell at Almeria proved, he now has a work-rate to match his natural talent.
Moving on and two-time Gunner Jens Lehmann has been speaking to The Sun about new Arsenal ‘keeper Petr Cech, suggesting the former Chelsea man must banish his Blues past from his memory and mentally acclimatise to being an Arsenal player. Although it shouldn’t be that heart-rending really, like trying to forget Katie Hopkins so you can fully commit to Olivia Wilde.
Anyway, Invincible Jens said:
It’s not easy to suddenly go from Chelsea, where he has spent almost his whole career winning many trophies, to the other side of the capital with a rival. Before you can have it in your heart to win titles again, you have to get rid of of the love you had before. At Chelsea, for Petr, it was his passion and he showed great commitment. But, as a professional, he must get over it and needs to know Arsenal want him to win things again with them. Yet, let me tell you, that is not an easy thing to get over psychologically. It can take a few weeks, even a few months.
As much as I love Jens, I think he’s over-estimating the pull of Chelsea here. Even if Cech was born in the Stamford Bridge changing room, delivered by the Chelsea club doctor, to a Chelsea season ticket wielding mother and father, he’d soon disown the lot of them when Arsenal came calling.
Our original BFG (Stefan Malz wasn’t that big), then went on to praise Cech’s qualities and his likely longevity, saying:
Petr has maybe five fantastic years still ahead of him so this is the best deal Arsenal could possibly have done. I don’t think it’ll take him time to get used to playing with a new set of defenders. Petr had one big advantage over Thibaut Courtois, who replaced him at Chelsea. Although he, too, is a fantastic ‘ keeper, he does not interact much with his teammates whereas Petr does. Also, he has a faster brain than most people.
Jens also touched on Arsenal’s maturing mentality, Wojciech Szczesny’s future and what he thinks Mesut Ozil must do better. But I’m saving those quotes for tomorrow so you’ll have to wait. Don’t blame me, rationing’s a requisite at this time of year.