Never Mind Arsenal, Appreciate Alexis Sanchez

Statistics are still sort of working themselves out in soccer, especially in the English Premier League. Goals and assists are so rare that they paint an incomplete picture of what a player’s contributions are to his team.

Unless you’re Alexis Sanchez this season.

Sanchez, in his signature Arsenal extra smedium shirt, has 17 goals and eight assists for the London club through 25 Premier League games. He is the leading goalscorer in the Premier League and tied for second in assists, which puts him on pace for about 26 goals and 12 assists through the course of the 38-game season.

That’s a similar clip to Luis Suarez’s 2013-2014 season with Liverpool, when the Uruguayan scored 31 goals and bagged 12 assists (albeit in 33 games total, due to a suspension at the start of the season).

What’s shocking about Sanchez’s outstanding season is how quiet it’s been. Arsenal currently sits second in the Premier League on 50 points, tied with cross-town rivals Tottenham and 10 points behind fellow London club Chelsea. Chelsea’s seemingly insurmountable lead through two-thirds of the season has led to Sanchez flying a bit under the radar (Eden Hazard’s spectacular return to form has also drew more headlines).

But that’s harsh on Sanchez and on Arsenal. On any team and in any season, 17 goals and eight assists make for a wonderful season, much less one that’s not even done yet.

For Arsenal fans, there are a few ways you can look at this current Premier League campaign that, in all likelihood, will end with an all too familiar top-four finish coming just short of the Premier League title. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has not claimed the top spot at season’s end since 2004.

You could resurrect the “Wenger Out!” cries that have besieged the Arsenal manager for what feels like a decade. They’re shameful, really, for a manager who has been very good and consistent while clubs of similar stature, like Liverpool, have floundered in the same period, finishing between second and eighth. But just coming close for more than a decade isn’t enough for a club with Arsenal’s aspirations, especially when you factor in European failures. The Gunners haven’t won a knockout stage tie in the Champions League since 2010. They face German giants Bayern Munich this year. The safe bet is that pitiful streak will continue.

Still, Arsenal supporters could take comfort in knowing that you’re practically guaranteed another top-four finish.That’s Champion’s League guaranteed and the money that comes with it. Yes, it’s another year without a title, but who cares? It’s hardly a shame to finish in the top four in a Premier League that is as deep and competitive as it’s ever been. Look no further than Pep Guardiola, whose Manchester City debut has yielded inconsistent returns.

Or you can say the hell with it. The hell with Arsenal and where the Gunners finish. You have a player in the midst of a legendary season, and doing anything less than enjoying it to its fullest extent would be a crime. Watch Alexis Sanchez ball out. Enjoy it as much as you can while you can, because another performance like this is anything but guaranteed.

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