6th April 2016: Alexis on injury fears, ambition and Ozil

Welcome to Wednesday on TremendArse. I’ll start this evening with an admittance from our south American superstar Alexis Sanchez that fear of sustaining another injury has hampered his performances since he returned from a two-month spell on the side-lines earlier in the campaign.

The Chilean tore his hamstring in our draw at Norwich at the end of November, and went on to miss 10 games in all competitions before making his comeback from the bench against Chelsea in late Janaury. Since then, Sanchez has struggled for goals and form by the lofty standards he set in his debut campaign.

There are mitigating circumstances of course, in that he failed to have a pre-season with Arsenal after helping Chile to win the Copa America last summer, before being rushed back to action by Arsene Wemger a lot sooner than most people had anticipated. Anyway, here’s what Sanchez had to say:

Before my injury I was 100 per cent fit. I was feeling well. After the injury I wanted to get back but it was hard. I had a setback and when I played a match, I was scared I would get injured again because the thing I like most in the world is playing football and when I can’t play, I feel sad. Football is my passion, my life and I always want to win. If I lose, I always go home sad, I can’t sleep and that upsets me. When I win, my team-mates are happy and enjoy their families the next day. Football is my life. I think I have adapted well to the club but I am never satisfied with what I do. I want to win the Premier League, the Champions League. I always want to win everything.

Despite having returned from injury over two months ago now, I think it’s fair to say Sanchez is still searching for his top gear. But with the Arsenal team a lot more settled and fluent in recent games, his own personal performances also seem to have improved, partly also perhaps because of a switch to the right flank. He’s notched up two assists and a goal in our last three games against Barcelona, Everton and Watford, so the signs are that he’s approaching something close to his best form again.

Arguably his best performance for us this season, aside from his hat-trick at Leicester in September, came in our mauling of Manchester United in October, when Sanchez scored twice in that ruthless opening 20 minutes in which we scored three times at Emirates stadium. And the forward suggested that game must be the blueprint for Arsenal, as well as lauding the quality of Mesut Ozil:

Before that match, we all had hunger and desire to win — you could see that in the eyes of the players before we went on to the pitch. When all the players have that look of hunger of wanting to win things, it’s difficult for another team to beat us. Ozil is a fantastic player. When I’m on top form, 100 per cent fit, because he has such quality, he can give me the ball with ease and that sets me up for scoring.

Needless to say our two most expensive-ever buys are also our two most influential attack-minded players, so hopefully we can keep them fit for the remaining eight games of the season and then tie them down to new contracts because there just aren’t many of their quality available in the market right now.

Finally for today, after promising there was more to come from him in yesterday’s post, Mohamed Elneny has revealed his joy at grabbing his first goal for the club having netted against Barcelona at Camp Nou last month, and also suggested the Premier League title is still within Arsenal’s reach this term. He told Arsenal Player:

I was very happy with it. However, I wasn’t happy with the result of the game as we didn’t qualify for the next round. It is something that you can’t describe afterwards – but I was very happy to score against Barcelona in the Nou Camp – it was a very beautiful feeling. Also, selecting it as Goal of the Month was very good. I hope to score more goals in the future, hopefully to help the team to win the league title this year.

Let’s hope so Mo. In fact, I can picture it now, Elneny smashes home the title-winning goal on the last day of the season against relegated Aston Villa, as Chelsea beat Leicester at Stamford Bridge, with Tottenham having dropped out of the picture entirely after going on a six-game losing streak.

It’s still on. I’m tellin’ ya …

Back tomorrow.

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