Why Arsene Wenger’s decision to drop Alexis Sanchez was not terrible
When it was announced that Alexis Sanchez was not starting against Liverpool it is safe to day that most people were shocked.
When it came out not long after that it wasn’t through injury, everyone was shocked. But was it really such a terrible plan?
It’s easy to say it was after the result, but one of my main criticisms of Arsene Wenger is his lack of flexibility in games (and particularly big games) and his refusal to make changes.
Of course, I would have started Alexis but I am also not going to get on the manager’s back for trying something different in these games. It clearly hasn’t worked in recent times as our record in these games shows.
The plan was obviously to be tighter and more direct with Olivier Giroud playing up with Danny Welbeck. For nine minutes it actually went well. Then a lapse in concentration cost us a goal and the whole thing unravelled. But, I can see Wenger’s logic, something I can’t say for some of his decisions in recent times. His faith in Francis Coquelin and Gabriel are the first to spring to mind.
Alexis has had a very good season, but we shouldn’t pretend that he has been in great form since Christmas. He has turned in some pretty poor performances, including in big games like Bayern Munich and his constant petulance has started to wear thin.
Look, this isn’t some thing meant to say Alexis isn’t all that or anything silly like that. But the decision to drop him to the bench is far from undeserved like some people would have you believe.
As I mentioned before, the fact that Wenger was willing to experiment here was actually something I was happy about. Do I think it was in the right way? No. I would have liked to see a 4-3-3 with Granit Xhaka, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi in there. But this line-up was obviously sent out to counter Liverpool’s press.
The second half was a lot more encouraging when Coquelin was swapped for Alexis but by then it was a little too late. I think the thing that is most frustrating is that there is a good team in the squad, we just need to pick it.
It may well be time for the manager to walk away, but his decision to drop Alexis should not be used as a reason why.