It would be fair to say that Arsene Wenger’s decision to bench Alexis Sanchez last weekend at Anfield raised a few eyebrows. There are two reasons for this. Firstly and obviously, the Chilean has been Arsenal’s best player for some time and would be expected to feature in such a massive fixture.
But also, because Wenger’s bizarre, out-of-character rationale of suddenly wishing to prioritise areal threats – perhaps for the first time in 20 years – sounded fishy as fuck. And was.
Now it appears the real reason behind Sanchez’s punishment was a training ground bust-up with team mates. More like it. In his Daily Mirror column, John Cross described Sanchez as a warrior on the pitch but a pain off of it, a petulant child who throws tantrum as often as he scores and who is impossible to manage.
It has become evident that unless Arsenal offer Sanchez a huge contract and promise a major squad overhaul this summer (something they were unable to promise RVP a few years back), he won’t be a Gunner next year. There is a cultural clash between Sanchez’s hatred of defeat so often visible during matches, and his team mates’ painful apathy in the face of yet another trophyless season.
I’m glad Sanchez is angry. Why wouldn’t he be? No player who contributes 17 goals in 26 Premier League appearances should be satisfied to sit in 5th place, unable to compete for any meaningful silverware. In fact regardless of individual stats, no Arsenal player should be happy right now.
Clash of mentalities
For years, Arsenal has been a band of Instagram-obsessed, immature teenagers content with mediocrity and incapable of finding consistency or even draw a critical look upon themselves, never mind team mates. In this context, Sanchez’s direct approach is at odds with the rest of the club, his screaming at others who refuse to follow his pressing or can’t get a simple pass straight seen as counter-productive to team morale.
His hunger should not be demonised nor disciplined. In fact, it is something the club has lacked for over a decade, and which characterised Arsenal’s greatest sides. Sanchez is affecting the dressing room atmosphere? GOOD! There shouldn’t be a good atmosphere given the current state of affairs.
Even Ian Wright admitted he would leave the club if put in a similar position. Who could blame them? In this clash of mentalities, I know where my support lies.