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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Life and Style
An Internet security expert has warned that voice recognition technology needs to be more secure
techExperts warn hackers could control our homes or spend our money simply by speaking
Extras
indybest
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
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

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style