Arsenal vs Manchester City comment: Alexis Sanchez creates chances – and a poser for Arsene Wenger

The Chilean will surely play down the middle at some point this season

Wembley

There was palpable excitement each time the flash of Alexis Sanchez’s orange boots – which almost matched Arsenal’s new, rather off-red Puma kit – touched the ball here today.

And although he played only one half in the Community Shield, the Chilean had his share of touches and there was plenty to get excited about, as he carried the ball forward, laid it in to feet, and raced goalwards with real pace.

Sanchez’s nickname in his impoverished youth in Chile was “the Squirrel”. No tree, apparently, was too high for him to climb to retrieve his precious football.

“Without football, I’d be pushing a wheelbarrow around on a building site,” he said in a recent interview. “My great virtue is that I had one chance and I took it.”

No golden chance came for him to take or miss today, but his virtues are wider in any case – showing he is every bit as much a maker as a taker of opportunities.

With his first touch he cut inside and played the ball through to Yaya Sanogo, creating space, opening up the pitch, rather than going one on one, a part of his game he claims to have learnt in his three years at Barcelona.

Though it is not explicitly what Arsène Wenger paid £30m for, Sanchez still had a significant role in Arsenal’s first two goals, playing a short pass in to the feet of Sanogo, who crashed – with the ball never really under control – through enough of the City defence to set up Santi Cazorla.

 

The second was a similar story, except this time Sanchez carried the ball down the flank before playing a diagonal pass in to the feet of Sanogo, who in turn offloaded the ball for Aaron Ramsey to fire across the face of goal.

Wenger admitted in his programme notes that the Chilean will begin this season on the flank while Theo Walcott continues to recover from injury, but if Arsenal are to improve on last season and, who knows, go the whole way in something more illustrious than the FA Cup, it will surely have to involve Sanchez playing through the middle at some stage or other. Not least because Sanogo, for all his goals in pre-season, appears far from up to the job.

On the stroke of half-time Sanchez almost scored himself, as he raced clear and on to Sanogo’s just-too-heavy pass, but Manchester City’s on-rushing goalkeeper got there first, and that was that.

More important, in the more crucial games to come, will be how well Sanchez combines with Olivier Giroud, who replaced Sanogo at half-time, but for that Arsenal fans will have to wait and see.

On the right hand side of defence, new signing Mathieu Debuchy has replaced Bacary Sagna, as he has done in the France team, and he started brightly when his early cross was met by Sanogo’s header, which nearly found the net.

Mikel Arteta poses with the Shield alongside Santi Cazorla (left) and Sanchez (right) Mikel Arteta poses with the Shield alongside Santi Cazorla (left) and Sanchez (right) If Debuchy and Sanchez are to form Arsenal’s right flank for many games to come, the Frenchman clearly knows already how much the Chilean will look to cut inside and carry the ball towards goal. And as he does so, Debuchy is clearly happy – and more than able – to get to the byline and put in the crosses.

When Laurent Koscielny went off at half-time, to be replaced by Nacho Monreal, Debuchy found himself, in his first competitive match, probably the senior figure in the Arsenal back line, and promptly played Stevan Jovetic in on goal with a heinously misjudged back pass.

That sort of stuff only puts pressure on Arsenal’s young defence, and though £16m 19-year-old Calum Chambers from Southampton has quickly been labelled as one for the future, footballers very rarely get faster with age, even ones as young as this, and the ease with which Edin Dzeko sped past him down the right in the first half will be cause for concern. The second-string defence this might have been, especially in the second half, but the scoreline flattered, and question marks certainly remain over whether it can be relied upon.

At the other end, that on-rushing City keeper who denied Sanchez his debut goal was not Joe Hart, but Willy Caballero, the second of the City manager Manuel Pellegrini’s “two No 1 keepers”, as he described the pair before the match. The newly arrived 32-year-old Argentine played under Pellegrini at Malaga for several years, yet another reason Hart has much to be nervous about.

Though Caballero won’t have enjoyed the match, there was in reality little he could do for any of Arsenal’s goals, but he did show awareness in beating Sanchez in that race to the ball, and is evidently more than up to the job.

The £12m Portuguese defensive midfielder Fernando started, though he is likely to remain lower down the pecking order than Brazilian Fernandinho.

The captain Yaya Touré is the only truly irreplaceable part of City’s breathtaking squad, but should the most unfortunate injury of all happen, it will be Fernando’s job to replace him.

He looked comfortable on the ball, and fired in a powerful shot on the half-hour mark, but if he is the kind of player who can control a match from the deep-lying position, he did not show it at Wembley.

Suggested Topics
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Voices
Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corré deliver an anti-fracking letter to No 10 last week
voicesThe great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick